*** SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** "Douce" is one of the absolute peaks of the French cinema during the Occupation.Sixty years later,its strength is still intact ,its beauty fascinating.Probably Claude Autant-Lara 's masterpiece,it's a work every movie buff must see,particularly the ones who love Max Ophuls's or Joseph L.Mankiewicz's esthetic refinement. Quintet could be another name for it because it deals with five characters,played by five equally brilliant actors.Meet them: -the countess of Bonaffé: an old noble,who has not forgotten 1789,and who wants to keep the world as it is:"do not give the Poor too beautiful things because they could dream of a luxury they will never be able to afford".She reigns in her luxury home over her servants whom she despises and humiliates.Marguerite Moreno portrays this dowager with authority. -Her son,a wash-out widower ,who lost a leg in the war of 1870 against the Prussians,a big defeat for France .And for the nobles,whose occupation has always been war ,particularly before the 1789 revolution,it's ultimate decay.Disenchanted,he's secretely in love with his daughter Douce's teacher Irène.Jean Debucourt plays this aristocrat with bonhomie and a certain naiveté. -Her granddaughter ,Douce: a romantic young girl.she's too young to understand .She's in love with the countess's ostler,Fabien.Odette Joyeux was one of Autant-Lara 's favorite actresses.She will also star in "Sylvie et le fantôme" and "le mariage de chiffon". -Douce's teacher,Irène .She was hired by the countess ,recommended by Fabien,because she's his lover.Madeleine Robinson really shines and is probably the stand-out of a stellar cast.She literally mesmerizes the audience. -And finally,Fabien,loved at once by an aristocrat and a common.He's a rebel,he 's got nothing but contempt for the countess and her world of privileges. It would take pages to depict all the richness of this work.The most famous scene remains "la visite aux pauvres"(paying a visit to the Poor):the countess bringing a tiny Xmas tree-which contrasts with the huge one in her hall- and a pot- au- feu (boiled beef with vegetables)to a needy couple:"patience and resignation" she tells to "comfort" them.Behind her back,Fabien mumbles "impatience and rebellion". The situation is a cul -de -sac:nothing is possible;the father's love for the teacher is a misalliance the countess would never agree with.As for Douce,she tries to escape her stifling milieu :she leaves home with Fabien ,but tragedy awaits round the corner. SPOILERSµµµµµµµµµSPOILERS The final pictures are astonishing:Irène and fabien are turned out by the countess on Xmas day;while they leave the house,which represents a crumbling and crepuscular world,more than ever,now that Douce is dead in a fire,you can hear a heavenly carol.END of Spoiler. It would be a crime to pass over Philippe Agostini's cinematography,which enhances the muffled atmosphere of the candlelit mansion.Under this veneer,so many frustrations,so much wickedness,rottenness everywhere.
In Paris in 1887, Irène works as a governess to Douce, the grand-daughter of the dowager Countess de Bonafé. Douce believes she is in love with Fabien, the handsome manager of the estate. ...
January 28, 2021