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Sunday, January 25, 2015

La Regle Du Jeu (aka Rules Of The Game) (1939)

At a house party in the French countryside just before WWII, a group of aristocrats barely maintain the illusion of civility while passions and hypocrisy simmer below the surface. But soon it all boils over as their pretense can no longer be contained. A comedy of manners that ends in tragedy and its quaintly charming characters (including the servants) no longer seem appealing at all. Jean Renoir's masterpiece caused a storm of controversy in its country of origin, so shocking its audience (possibly because of the sting of recognition) and government that it got cut by its distributors and later banned by the Vichy government as "unpatriotic". It wasn't until the 1950s when it was restored and the acclaim started rolling in and today, it is justifiably considered one of the greatest films ever made. For a certified classic, it's great fun and you never get the feeling that you're supposed to like it as opposed to simply bathing in its pleasures. One sequence though is disturbing to contemporary sensibilities. The hunting sequence with its mass slaughter of birds and rabbits is downright unpleasant to watch. The superb cast includes Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Roland Toutain, Mila Parely, Gaston Modot and Renoir himself.

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