Boudu Saved From Drowning

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #305: Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning.

I have rel­a­tively large, com­pletely per­sonal is­sues with old French com­edy. À nous la lib­erté is pretty much the only old French com­edy I’ve ever re­ally liked. I think it boils down to a feel­ing that come­dies of this stripe are con­stantly wink­ing at the viewer, nudge nudg­ing. Say NO MORE! The laugh track serves the pur­pose more sub­tly in these mod­ern times, but in Boudu we get char­ac­ters who laugh at their own jokes. Tres gauche. Not my style.

Boudu the bum is ba­si­cally the French ver­sion of Chaplin’s. A bit more too, as he’s a pretty generic holy fool and mega­phone through which Renoir mocks the bour­geoisie. And, due to its no­to­ri­ous dif­fi­cultly, the satire falls flat for me here and be­comes, as afore­men­tioned, mere mock­ery. The bour­geois men­tal­ity is bluntly served up in di­a­logue that’s ba­si­cally shit no one ever says. Perhaps the sub­ti­tling loses some nu­ance, but judg­ing by the de­lib­er­ate, blunt trauma chaos that Boudu in­flicts upon all and sundry with whom he comes into con­tact, Renoir wasn’t that con­cerned with sub­tlety in the first place.

Basically no one comes off well; even at the end of the film when Renoir could have re­deemed, and very much should have re­deemed Boudu, (at least by hav­ing his dog re­turn to him), all that oc­curs is a stum­bling exit, which, though ap­pro­pri­ate for a bum, doesn’t provide much clo­sure in any other re­gard.

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