Elena and Her Men

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


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.


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