Les Cousins (1959)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Claude Chabrol provides a few new wrinkles to the old "city mouse/country mouse" fable in Les Cousins. Bucolic Gerald Blain heads to Paris, where he enters into a romantic rivalry with his urbane cousin Jean-Claude Brialy. Their mutual object of affections is Juliette Maynal. Despite Brialy's glib tongue and worldly approach, he is beaten-nay, ruined-by the supposedly ingenuous Blain. In this second of Chabrol's feature-length efforts, the director introduces the generic character names "Charles" and "Paul", the former representing bourgeois values, the latter the embodiment of modern decadence. In various guises, Charles and Paul would reappear in virtually every subsequent Chabrol-directed domestic drama.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Gérard Blain
as Charles
Claude Cerval
as Clovis Dalbecque
Juliette Mayniel
as Florence
Geneviève Cluny
as Geneviève
Corrado Guarducci
as Italian Count
Guy Decomble
as Librarian
Stéphane Audran
as Françoise
Jeanne Pérez
as Cleaning lady
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Critic Reviews for Les Cousins

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (5)

The director tackles his great theme-the puncturing of bourgeois moralism, albeit at a price-with a joyful, quasi-Nietzschean derision.

Full Review… | May 12, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

Concise progression, fine technical aspects, and the look at innocence destroyed by the profane keeps it absorbing, despite the slightly pretentious treatment at times.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

A fine, richly detailed tableau of student life in Paris, and Chabrol's first statement (in his second film) of his sardonic view of life as a matter of the survival of the fittest.

June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

M. Chabrol has more skill with the camera than he has with the pen, and his picture is more credible to the eye than it is to the skeptical mind. But it is not the less overwhelming.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

This is Chabrol's second film, and its subtle development of character points toward the dense structures of his later films with their reluctance either to condemn or extol without reservation.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Reversing the setting and characters of Le Beau Serge, Claude Chabrol discovers the acerbic stylization that he would for the rest of his career polish and sharpen

Full Review… | October 24, 2014

Audience Reviews for Les Cousins

This movie by French New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol has a pretty simple plot, but was enjoyable nonetheless. In a nutshell, Charles, an innocent and earnest young law student, moves to Paris from the provinces to live with Paul, his sophisticated, profligate cousin. He's immediately exposed to the party life, which is both wild (there is a lot of flirting and bottle smashing) and somewhat amusing (the young men are all in suits and ties, play Bridge in bars, and listen to Mozart and Wagner at parties). He falls for Florence, a woman who's been around, and while she wants to have a meaningful relationship, she's convinced by Paul and another friend that she'll find him boring. She ends up with Paul instead, and moves in with the two of them. Charles actually takes it quite well, sharing meals with them and doing his best to ignore them, for example, as they shower together. He gets a free book and great advice from a bookseller (study hard, and "Read Dostoyevsky - he addresses all your concerns!"), who was naturally my favorite character :). Exams loom, and while Charles tries to apply himself, Paul parties on. I won't spoil it any more than I already have. This was one of those old movies that was anything but boring. The New Wave movement had as its aim to make movies that were different in content and style, and this succeeds; it's quite edgy for its time, and Chabrol has some great shot sequences here. Seeing it really transported me to the Latin Quarter in 1959 Paris.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer


The director tackles his great theme-the puncturing of bourgeois moralism, albeit at a price-with a joyful, quasi-Nietzschean derision.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Absorbing. Gerard Blain is subtle, yet mesmerizing.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

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