Le Beau Serge

1958, Movie, NR, 97 mins


Generally considered the film that put the French New Wave in the history books (though Jacques Rivette's PARIS BELONGS TO US was the first to go into production), LE BEAU SERGE received overwhelming critical approval of its use of non-professional actors, raw black-and-white photography (masterfully executed by Henri Decae), and personal vision. It is the tale of two old friends, Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy), a city dweller who returns to the provincial French village of his childhood, and Serge (Gerard Blain), a successful architect-turned-drunkard. After the birth of a malformed son, Serge's life and marriage go into a tailspin as he collapses under the weight of tremendous guilt. Unfortunately, the film is cluttered with Catholicism, which director Claude Chabrol had the good sense to deemphasize as his career developed. Though highly acclaimed, LE BEAU SERGE was quickly overshadowed by the subsequent success of Francois Truffaut's 400 BLOWS, Jean-Luc Godard's BREATHLESS, and Alain Resnais's HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR. LES COUSINS, a companion piece to LE BEAU SERGE that also starred Brialy and Blain, appeared the following year to an equally enthusiastic reception. leave a comment

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Le Beau Serge (Criterion Collection)
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