Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dvd/150: LA BETE HUMAINE (Jean Renoir, 1938)

Loosely based on Zola's novel, Renoir's influential thriller is set in the Le Havre railway yards where the clattering, shrieking trains provide a metaphor for the characters' relentless journey to their destinies.


When stationmaster Roubaud realises his young wife Séverene was once her rich godfather's mistress he reacts violently, luring him onto a train journey to murder him making sure Séverene watches to incriminate her too.


However engine driver Jacques Lantier sees them leave the man's carriage.  Séverine implores Jacques to deny he saw them and another man is arrested.  As Roubard descends into jealous lethargy, Séverene and Jacques' relationship becomes a passionate love affair. 


Séverene suggests Jacques kill Roubard so they can escape but Jacques is hiding his own secret - moments of mental fugue which render him psychotic.


Renoir's masterly direction and great performances from Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Ledoux and Carette make this a classic of French cinema.


Shelf or charity shop? Sur le plateau bien sur!!


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