Beau Serge

Le Beau Serge

Director: Claude Chabrol

Cast: Claude Chabrol, Gérard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz

     
 

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Le Beau Serge was the first film of French critic-turned-director Claude Chabrol. Though not a murder melodrama, the film is heavily influenced by the works of Chabrol's idol Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt in particular. Ailing city dweller Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) makes a therapeutic return visit to his home town in the country. Here he visits

Overview

Le Beau Serge was the first film of French critic-turned-director Claude Chabrol. Though not a murder melodrama, the film is heavily influenced by the works of Chabrol's idol Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt in particular. Ailing city dweller Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) makes a therapeutic return visit to his home town in the country. Here he visits childhood friend Serge (Gerard Blain), and is appalled to find how far Serge has plummeted into alcoholism and self-pity. The two protagonists indulge in a transference of personal guilt, then an "exchange of redemption" (to quote Chabrol chronicler Charles Derry). Highly influential in the French New Wave movement of the 1950s, Le Beau Serge has something very special to say about the care and nurturing of friendship, especially one that has dimmed with distance and time. Both male stars, as well as leading lady Bernadette Lafont, would continue working with director Chabrol for the remainder of his career.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Considered by many as the first of the French "New Wave" films, Le Beau Serge has lost some of its power over the decades but is still a worthy and at times fascinating film. Claude Chabrol's first film, Beau doesn't look or feel as if a first-timer were writing and directing it. There's a confidence and an assured feeling that only falters toward the end; prior to that, Beau has the feeling of a picture that is playing by its own rules and inventing a few of them as it goes along. It actually is more structured than it initially suggests, but it disguises that structure with an ambiguity and a naturalness. This makes the ending, which comes across as forced and contrived, all the more disappointing. But this late in the game failing can't erase what has come before; it's also true that many respond quite positively to the ending, even if it feels it has been clumsily put into place. Chabrol also gets a bit heavyhanded in his Christian symbols and allegories, but this too is a minor flaw. The auteur is immensely aided by his cinematographic team of Henri Decae and Jean Rabier, whose stark, bleak work has a strange beauty and perfectly captures the despair at the heart of the film. Future Chabrol stalwarts Gerard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy turn in evocative, forceful performances, and the supporting cast effectively captures the feeling of people trapped in their lives.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/20/2011
UPC:
0715515086318
Original Release:
1958
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
3,204

Special Features

New audio commentary featuring Guy Austin, author of Claude Chabrol ; Claude Chabrol: Mon premier film, a documentary by Francis Girod on the making of Le beau Serge, featuring interviews with Chabrol and actor Jean-Claude Brialy ; Segment from a 1969 episode of the French television series L'invité du dimanche in which Chabrol revisits Sardent, the town he grew up in and Le beau Serge's location ; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gérard Blain Serge
Jean-Claude Brialy Francois
Michele Meritz Yvonne
Bernadette Lafont Marie
Edmond Beauchamp Glomaud
Claude Cerval The priest
Jeanne Perez Actor
André Dino Michel, the doctor
Claude Chabrol La Truffe

Technical Credits
Claude Chabrol Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Charles Bitsch Asst. Director
Jean Cotet Production Manager
Philippe de Broca Asst. Director
Claude de Givray Asst. Director
Henri Decaë Cinematographer
Émile Delpierre Score Composer
Jacques Gaillard Editor
Jean Rabier Camera Operator

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