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Monday, January 13, 2014

Les cousins (1959) d. Claude Chabrol

Juliette Mayniel plays the slatternly Florence, the shared love interest of cousins Paul and Charles in Les Cousins (1959) directed by Claude Chabrol.

Les cousins (1959)
 d. Claude Chabrol
Criterion Collection #581

  Les cousins has the distinction of being the second best French New Wave film released in 1959 (400 Blows.)  There's something to be said about an Artist who puts out a pretty good work of Art the same year that the best example of the Art form ever gets released in the same country, as was the case here.  Les cousins is Chabrol's second feature, and he went ahead and cast the same two men in the lead roles, reversing the good/bad axis.

  In Les cousins, Jean-Claude Brialy, the hero of his first form, plays Paul, the lecherous, debauched law student who welcomes his naive cousin Charles, played by Gerard Blain, to university study.  While living with Paul, Charles falls in love with Florence, who is, unfortunately, a slut.  When Florence gets the time and location of a date with Charles wrong, Paul takes the opportunity to seduce her, ably assisted by his major domo Clovis.  Cut to: Paul shoots Charles with one of the many pistols scattered about the apartment but only Charles fails his initial examination after Paul keeps him up with his partying.

 Les cousins, with its university setting, jazz soundtrack and American gangster influenced dialogue is closer to what would become the signature style of the French New Wave than was Chabrol's first picture, Le Beau Serge.  Of course Breathless, which would be released in 1960, would define that style, but Les cousins is verrrrry close.

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