Monday, April 27, 2015

Lacombe, Lucien

Directed by Louis Malle and written by Malle and Patrick Modiano, Lacombe, Lucien is the story of a teenage boy dealing with life under German occupation of France in World War II. The film plays into a period of time when France was under severe control as a teenage boy would play a crucial part in France‘s war against Germany but on the wrong side after being rejected by the French Resistance. Starring Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clement, Holger Lowenalder, Therese Giehse, and Stephane Bouy. Lacombe, Lucien is a riveting coming-of-age film from Louis Malle.

Set in the summer of 1944 during Germany’s occupation of France in World War II, the film revolves an 17-year old boy who joins a Gestapo group after being rejected to join the French Resistance. Upon joining this band of French fighters who work with the Nazis, Lucien Lacombe (Pierre Blaise) feels like he belongs somewhere after being forced out of his family farm and having nowhere else to go. During his time working with the Gestapo, he befriends a Jewish tailor as he falls for the tailor’s daughter as he tries to help her family escape France as things intensify once the Allies start to gain ground and kick the Nazis out of France.

It’s a film that plays into a young man trying to find a place in the world as he becomes comfortable working with the Gestapo but eventually realizes he’s on the losing side as he is forced to do things to help those he care about while knowing he is a target. The film’s screenplay is very simple as it plays into Lucien’s desire to find meaning as he becomes seduced with power but realizes how dangerous things are once the Gestapo is being taken out by the Resistance. It’s in the third act where Lucien does find redemption but also knows that it will be short-lived as he becomes more concerned about saving those he care about rather than himself.

Louis Malle’s direction is very engaging for the way he portrays 1944 France during a tense summer as it shot on location in a rural, small town in the middle of France. Much of it is presented with images and compositions that are very intimate with elements of naturalism in its look. While there’s lots of close-ups and medium shots in the film, Malle’s approach to wide shots are entrancing to play into the location. Malle would also use hand-held camera shots to play into something that feels naturalistic as well as creating shots to play into some of the dramatic tension as it involves Lucien and this Jewish tailor named Albert Horn (Holger Lowenalder) since Horn is kept alive due to his work as Lucien would fall for Horn’s daughter named France (Aurore Clement). Malle would also create moments that are violent but he never really shows anything as it becomes evident in its third act once it becomes clear that Lucien is now in danger where it would set the path for his own redemption. Overall, Malle creates a very compelling yet intoxicating coming-of-age film about a young man in Nazi-occupied France.

Cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli does incredible work with the film‘s cinematography with its sunny and colorful daytime exterior scenes that has an air of naturalism with some unique lighting schemes for some scenes set at night at the home where the Gestapo runs their operation. Editor Suzanne Baron does excellent work with the editing as it‘s very straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into the drama and suspense. Production designer Ghislain Uhry and set decorator Henri Vergnes do amazing work with the set pieces from the home of the Gestapo to the messy apartment that Albert Horn and his family live in.

Costume designer Corrine Jorry does nice work with the costumes as it plays into that period in time from the dresses as well as some of the uniforms the Nazis wear. Sound mixer Nara Kollery does terrific work with the sound to capture some of the drama and moments of violence that definitely amps up the drama. The film’s music consists of pieces by Charles Gronoud and Django Reinhardt as it plays into the sense of youth in Lucien as well as some of the drama that occurs in the film.

The casting by Catherine Vernoux is brilliant as it features notable small roles from Jacques Rispal as the farm proprietor who dislikes Lucien, Gilberte Rivet as Lucien’s mother, Pierre Saintons as the collaborator Hippolyte, Cecile Ricard as the hotel maid who would seduce Lucien early in the film, Jacques Rougerie as the German police chief that would take charge of the local Gestapo, Loumi Iacobesco as an once-famous film star who works with the Gestapo, and Stephane Bouy as a top collaborator who would show Lucien the ropes into displaying power. Therese Giehse is fantastic in a small yet enchanting role as Albert’s mother Bella as she is mostly silent as she is merely an observer of what goes on as she has some distrust towards Lucien.

Holger Lowenadler is excellent as Albert Horn as a Jewish tailor who lives as a recluse as he is under secret protection for his work as he befriends Lucien as well as suspicious for his intentions for his daughter. Aurore Clement is amazing as Albert’s daughter France as she is the embodiment of innocence as she is also suspicious of Lucien’s intentions as she becomes aware of what the Germans will do to her family. Finally, there’s Pierre Blaise in a phenomenal performance as Lucien Lacombe as this 17-year old boy lost in the world as his attempts to be part of the French Resistance forces him to go into the other side by accident as he becomes seduced by power but also lost in a world where he knows he’s on the wrong side and is going to be killed for his actions.

Lacombe, Lucien is a sensational film from Louis Malle that features a stunning performance from Pierre Blaise. Armed with a great ensemble, a fantastic soundtrack, and a gorgeous cinematography from Tonino Delli Colli, the is definitely an intriguing coming-of-age film set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II as it is told from the other side. In the end, Lacombe, Lucien is a marvelous film from Louis Malle.

Louis Malle Films: (The Silent World) - Elevator to the Gallows - The Lovers (1958 film) - Zazie dans le metro - (A Very Private Affair) - (Vive Le Tour) - The Fire Within - (Bons baisers de Bangkok) - (Viva Maria!) - (The Thief of Paris) - Spirits of the Dead-William Wilson - (Phantom India) - (Calcutta) - Murmur of the Heart - (Humain, Trop Humain) - Place de la Republique - Black Moon - (Close Up (1976 short) - (Dominique Sanda ou Le reve eveille) - Pretty Baby - Atlantic City (1980 film) - (My Dinner with Andre) - Crackers - God’s Country (1985 film) - (Alamo Bay) - (And the Pursuit of Happiness) - Au Revoir Les Enfants - (May Fools) - (Damage (1992 film)) - (Vanya on 42nd Street)

© thevoid99 2015


Anonymous said...

This really is a great film and a great review! Good word Steven.

thevoid99 said...

@Fisti-Ah, Merci.

Brittani Burnham said...

I've never heard of this one but it sounds absolutely fascinating. Now I'm off to Netflix to see if I can throw it in one of my queues. Great review!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I think of it as one of Malle's finest films. I'm currently finishing up Atlantic City and then I do Au Revoir Les Enfants.