Le Beau Serge

Technically this 1958 Claude Chabrol film was the first feature of the French New Wave to be released—though it was Chabrol's second film, Les cousins, with the same stars, Gerard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy, that had an international impact. Brialy plays a tubercular theology student who returns to his hometown to convalesce and becomes reacquainted with a childhood friend (Blain), an alcoholic stuck in a bad marriage. Roland Barthes attacked this film for its “right-wing” and “static” image of man, and even Chabrol fan Tom Milne has found its Hitchcockian theme of “transference” expressed too overtly in terms of Christian allegory. I barely remember it, but it has a certain fascination as Chabrol's first practical (as opposed to critical) encounter with mise en scene. In French with subtitles. 98 min.

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