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.