Friday, January 02, 2009

Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring (1986: Claude Berri)

Jean de Florette (France/Switzerland/Italy: Claude Berri, 1986: 120 mins) 4 stars

The intertwined pathos of the morally/intellectually stunted Ugolin (Daniel Auteil) and the over-reaching, creative humpback Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu) powers this film to escape its "quality" picture limitations. Both actors are believable in their roles, even if at times they become caricatures... still one cannot help but be consumed by Jean's ambitions and Ugolin's deep betrayal of his friendship. The ending to this beautiful film is devastating.

Manon of the Spring (France/Italy/Switzerland: Claude Berri, 1986: 113 mins) 2 stars

Sequel that fails to live up to the intense promise of the original. Probably unfair to expect it to do so, as it is the portrayal of the tragic, twisted descent of the homely Ugolin and his Machiavellian uncle Cesar (Yves Montand). Jean's wild orphaned daughter Manon is central to the second part of this tragic revenge story, but Emmanuel Beart, despite her striking beauty, at this time, did not have the acting skills to carry a film. This time the film is unable to escape its "quality" picture ambitions and slides into revenge cycle cliches.

Comment on the DVD: This is the two-sided MGM edition that conveniently has both films for fans, but fails to provide anything extra for those that would like to learn more about the film and/or the source materials.

1 comment:

Amey said...

No, there aren't any specific extras included on the DVD, but as this is such a classic, and based on books by the classic French author Marcel Pagnol, it's easy to find websites dedicated to the film. It's nice to have both films in one setting, which usually makes the price a little lower.

There are often whole websites dedicated to these two films, which is way more than would br included with DVDs anyway.

Glad you included these films though, they really encapsulate southern rural France in the late 19th-century.