The Two of Us

Claude Berri (Manon of the Spring) made an auspicious feature debut with this nostalgic drama (1967, 83 min.) based on his autobiographical novella. Alain Cohen stars as a troublemaking eight-year-old Jew in occupied France whose Parisian parents pass him off as Christian so he can safely board with an elderly gentile couple in rural Vichy; the old man, an anti-Semitic blowhard played by Michel Simon, bonds instantly with the boy, never realizing his true identity. In casting Simon—a legendary collaborator of Jean Renoir, Marcel Carne, and Jean Vigo—Berri invokes the humanism of classical French cinema, while his youthful alter ego has clear affinities to Truffaut's Antoine Doinel. Also on the program is Berri's Oscar-winning short Le Poulet (1963, 16 min.), which proves that his populist sensibility was evident from the start. Both are in French with subtitles.

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