Elena and Her Men

A part of this view­ing list: Criterion Collection Spine #244: Jean Renoir’s Elena and Her Men.

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I’ve had plen­ty of strange co­in­ci­dences in my Criterion view­ings so far. I’ve not been pick­ing films with any rhyme or rea­son, but stuff like this has been hap­pen­ing all too of­ten: The last movie I re­viewed was by Ingmar Bergman, and this movie stars Ingrid Bergman. Anyway, I didn’t like this film at all. I hon­est­ly can’t quite fig­ure out why The Criterion Company de­cid­ed to add it to their col­lec­tion. Even the es­say by Christopher Faulkner at the end shows the lengths and hoops you have to jump through to talk about this film in a semi-in­tel­li­gent man­ner.

So Renoir is a play­wright be ini­tial pro­fes­sion. Ok, fine. Making a film look like you’re watch­ing a set in a the­ater, and nev­er mov­ing the cam­era is bor­ing. The sets were pret­ty and so was the cos­tum­ing and oth­er as­pects of the mise en scene, but it was get­ting so ob­vi­ous that peo­ple were walk­ing on screen, hit­ting their mark and stat­ing their lines, that I was get­ting re­al­ly fid­gety. I want a film to keep me rapt. A play can do the same thing, but not watch­ing a play on a screen. The film is sup­posed to be a com­e­dy. It isn’t fun­ny at all, un­til the very end when all the Frogs start snog­ging. At the be­gin­ning, Renoir at­tempts to cov­er his ass by say­ing that the film is not meant to be po­lit­i­cal in na­ture, but it so very ob­vi­ous­ly is, and the machi­na­tions so trite that the en­tire film came off as a half-assed Much Ado About Nothing with crap­pier writ­ing. Ingrid Bergman and her red­head­ed maid Lolotte looked hot though.

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Criterion Essay by Christopher Faulkner
• Les Fleurs du Mal post with lots of screen caps.

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