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.

Speak your piece