117 minutes| France-Italy| 1974| Subtitled| Colour| 35mm

Resnais’ favourite film is said to be Jean Renoir’s 1938 masterpiece La Regle du jeu, and this is perhaps his own nearest equivalent: same period, similar social milieu and an epoch in its death-throes. Stavisky (finely played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) was a financial fraudster with friends in high places whose downfall helped to topple a government. Resnais concentrates on the last few months of his life before his suicide (or murder?) in 1934, with flash-forwards to the Commission of Enquiry after his death and a subplot about Trotsky’s brief exile in France that broadens the film’s context, political conviction pitted against capitalist opportunism. Charles Boyer, Anny Dupery and a young Gerard Depardieu grace a fine supporting cast and Stephen Sondheim provides an attractive score. It is a chilling film nonetheless (critic Richard Roud commented on its ‘almost mortuary insistence on the colour white’) and an unexpectedly timely one about a life lived on credit that eventually collapses, with far-reaching economic and political consequences.

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