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4:10   10:10

Friday, August 10

Directed by Jacques Becker
Starring Simone Signoret

(1952) Murder among the “apaches” in 1898 Paris: carpenter Serge Reggiani falls for cabaret enchantress Simone Signoret (“intensely, ripely physical” –Pauline Kael), takes on her lover, and then must face doom for a friend. Becker’s masterpiece, with the most excitingly pure filmmaking of the cinéma de qualité35mm. Approx 94 min.


“One of the great movie romances. This elegant masterwork is a glowingly nostalgic evocation of the Paris of the Impressionists, focusing on the apache underworld and an ill-starred romance that ends on the scaffold ... Signoret, as voluptuously sensual as a Rubens painting, has never been more stunning.”
– Tom Milne, Time Out

“A visual tour de force!”
– François Truffaut

“Marks a major turning point in [Becker’s] work. The danger-seethed, death-steeped maneuvers and manipulations of the criminal life lend a dark and rich romanticism to the passionate and tender love story. The gangland deceptions have an elegance of their own that belies the amoral power plays that they set into motion—and that’s matched by the tender considerations and intimate formalities of the love between Marie and Manda. The exquisite, lyrical stillness with which Becker imbues the performances is, in turn, matched by his fanatical physical reconstruction of the era, with costumes, styles, décor, and dialogue of a seemingly documentary specificity.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Deeply felt… Studded with the most intricately observed details.”
– David Mermelstein, The Wall Street Journal

“Becker seems as interested in how a gangster might admire and brush his jacket as he is in the life-or-death stakes of the story. Emotions are strangely subdued, and seismic events happen casually, quietly, with very little fuss or fanfare. Rather, the gestures and the glances tell the story: The most dramatic early exchange between the film’s two lovers — free-spirited moll Simone Signoret and humble carpenter Serge Reggiani — involves her taking an extended, gentle look at him as she walks away with her then-boyfriend. Becker doesn’t dwell on the gaze, nor does he close in on it. Rather, he places Signoret in the center of the frame, at some distance to the camera. The effect is to heighten the sense that she’s stealing a forbidden glance at the man she’d rather be with.”
– Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice

Film Forum