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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jean De Florette (1986)

In a small French village shortly after WWI, a dim witted peasant (Daniel Auteuil) returns home from military service. He has plans to grow carnations but he lacks the necessary water. Encouraged by his devious uncle (Yves Montand), they block the spring on a neighbor's land in the hopes that the new tenant's (Gerard Depardieu) crops will fail due to lack of water and move out. But not before selling the land to them. Based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol, Claude Berri's film was a massive critical and financial success when released and shortly followed by the second part of the narrative, MANON OF THE SPRING. It's a beautifully crafted film, stunningly shot by Bruno Nuytten, that evokes comparison to Greek tragedy. The performances of the three leads are excellent with Auteuil standing out in a difficult performance. Unlike his uncle, he seems a good person at heart but his lack of intelligence leads him to be manipulated. Auteuil lets us see the character's conflict, he knows he's doing wrong and feels bad about what he's doing but his lack of a moral center as well as his innate stupidity prevent him from acting on his conscience. With Elizabeth Depardieu and Ernestine Mazurowna.

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