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.