Le beau Serge
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Written by Claude Chabrol
Ajym Films/Cooperative Generale du Cinema Francais
François Baillou: I don’t know. That’s why I’m waiting.
A do-gooder gets his comeuppance in Chabrol’s directorial debut.
After success in the big city, Francois returns to his home town to recuperate from a bout of TB. It is perhaps the last place on earth anyone would look for a cure. The town is bleak and everyone is in a perpetual rut or worse. Francois’s friend Serge has become a wretched alcoholic. Serge’s downfall began when he gave up his studies to marry Yvonne. She was pregnant but the couple lost the child at birth. Francois becomes obsessed with helping Serge.
No one seems inclined to cooperate with Francois’s efforts. To add to his troubles, he begins an affair with Marie, despite being warned off the relationship by everyone who knows her. All this angst begins take a toll on Francois’s health.
This is a worthy debut but I felt like the director was sending a message that I just did not get. Probably it is that no good deed goes unpunished. Serge certainly went about things without ever understanding exactly what was going on. Nor did I. I also did not understand a lot of the use of music in the film. It is given to portentous dramatic flourishes at the oddest times.
According to IMDb, this is generally considered to be the first film of the French New Wave. I guess it’s as good a candidate as any.
Trailer – no subtitles