Elena et les Hommes | Chicago Reader

Elena et les Hommes

Recut and retitled Paris Does Strange Things for its American release, Jean Renoir's period sequel (1956) to his equally colorful French Cancan argues for a vision of the past as luminous sensory remembrance. It's a stylized souvenir of impressionist 1880s Paris—of the Boulanger coup and bourgeois comicality—as well as a parodistic gloss on Rules of the Game profundity, as if the Marxian rule of tragedy repeating as farce applied to personal filmography as well as to ordinary history. The period references aren't widely familiar (which in itself supplies a certain arcane charm), but the comic orchestration has a fine commedia dell'arte energy and line, some of which, unfortunately, diffuses toward the end. The film is ravishing to look at (with Ingrid Bergman radiant at its center), and its mid-80s 35-millimeter restoration is a sumptuous treat indeed. With Mel Ferrer, Jean Marais, and Juliette Greco. In French with subtitles. 95 min.

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