The Fire Within (1963)

The Fire Within (Le feu follet)
Directed by Louis Malle
Written by Louis Malle from a novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Nouvelles Editions de Films
First viewing/Netflix rental

Alain Leroy: Tomorrow, I kill myself.

Well-made but too damned depressing.

Alain LeRoy is thirty-something and for four months has resided in a sanitarium in Versailles where his estranged wife placed him for his alcoholism.  His doctor regards him as cured yet Alain is reluctant to leave, believing he will relapse quickly.  The movie begins with a first trip to Paris where he sleeps with a friend of his wife.  He returns to the sanitarium where he begins to plan his suicide for the next day.

Instead of shooting himself, Alain makes another trip to Paris to say good-bye to old friends, mostly from his drinking days.  Despite all the joy and life of Paris and the obvious love of his friends, Alain relapses.  What will happen the next day?

I don’t know what it is about 1963 but it seems to have been dominated by madcap comedies and complete downers.  This falls into the later category.  Malle shows us some stunning views of Parisian life but can’t overcome his plot.

I have a real problem with suicide in general.  I know that the people are mentally ill by this point but it seems like the ultimate act of selfishness to me.  Thus I had little empathy for Alain and his self-absorbed plight.


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