Uranus | Chicago Reader

Uranus

Claude Berri (Jean de Florette, Manon of the Springs) directed and authored (with Arlette Langmann) this adaptation of Marcel Ayme's jaundiced novel about postliberated France in 1945, as observed from the vantage point of a single village. The characters—including some Stalinist communists eager to settle scores by accusing their old enemies of collaboration, certain fascists in hiding, and at least one socialist (Philippe Noiret) with his head in the clouds—all wind up looking less than honorable in this nasty little account of small-town purges. The main performance is a bombastic turn by Gerard Depardieu as an alcoholic ex-wrestler and Racine buff who runs the local bar and gets wrongly accused of harboring a fascist; also on hand are Jean-Pierre Marielle, Michel Blanc, Michel Galabru, and Gerard Desarthe. At times difficult to follow, this unpleasantly cynical but carefully crafted film at least has the virtue of teaching us something about the moral disarray France was in after World War II, although Ayme's own collaborationist sympathies arguably make him less than ideal as a witness and commentator (1991).

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