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Le beau Serge

Chabrol’s first film – one of the first manifestations of the nouvelle vagueuis about a young student (Jean-Claude Brialy) who returns to his native village to convalesce from an illness, finds that his childhood friend and hero (Gerard Blain) has become a hopeless drunk, and attempts to reclaim him at the cost of his own health. As mirror images of each other, the two men reflect the interest in Hitchcockian themes of transference later elaborated in Chabrol’s work, but here expressed rather too overtly in terms of Christian allegory (a transference not so much of guilt as of redemption). Shot entirely on location in the village of Sardent (where Chabrol spent much of his childhood), it presents a bleak, beautifully observed picture of provincial life, later revisited to even more stunning effect in Le Boucher.

France, 1958.
English subtitles.
Black and white.
97 min.

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