René Clément – La baby-sitter aka Jeune fille libre le soir (1975)

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Whatever one says about the plot of this film is going to be a spoiler. Let’s just say that a girl takes a baby-sitting job for one night and in the morning finds that things are not what they seemed and she is in a big load of trouble.

The film has been trashed by just about everybody who ever bothered to write about it, and that’s unfair. At least among Clément’s thrillers – Les felins, Le passager de la pluie, La course du lièvre à travers les champs, etc – it can stand its ground, sharing their dreamlike ambiguity and opaque plot structure. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a worthwhile couple of hours. Continue reading

René Clément – Plein soleil AKA Purple Noon (1960)

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Purple Noon is a taut, intelligently written, and well crafted film about an amoral criminal. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon), commissioned to find and bring home an old school acquaintance named Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the errant son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, is quickly seduced by the lifestyle of the idle rich. Without independent means, the parasitic Tom immediately leeches onto the squandering, philandering Philippe, who only seems too eager to flaunt his wealth and humiliate him. Soon, Tom’s pervasive presence turns a leisurely yachting cruise with Philippe’s girlfriend, Marge (Marie Laforet), into a claustrophobic nightmare. After instigating an argument between the two lovers, causing Marge to leave, Tom sets his plot in motion to assume Philippe’s identity. Purple Noon is a highly stylized and insidiously clever film on committing the perfect crime. Continue reading

René Clément – Plein soleil AKA Purple Noon [+Extras] (1960)

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‘Tom Ripley and Philippe Greenleaf are lately inseparable friends. They’re both idling in Europe, but on papa Greenleaf’s dime. Philippe’s fiancee Marge feels sorry for Tom but resents his presence, while Philippe’s other friend, Freddie, considers Tom Ripley a worthless moocher. But there’s more to Tom Ripley, the mimic, the forger, the talented criminal improviser, than anyone, even Tom Ripley himself, can guess.’
– J. Spurlin (IMDb) Continue reading

René Clément – Jeux interdits aka Forbidden Games [+ Extras] (1952)

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Parisians flee into the countryside, strafed by German planes. Her parents shot, a small girl (Brigitte Fossey) wanders into the countryside, finding refuge with a peasant family. She and their youngest son (Georges Poujouly) form a liason against the adults. The French authorites hated it, but the film triumphed abroad and confirmed Clemént as a director of compassion and brilliance. Continue reading

René Clément – Monsieur Ripois aka Knave of hearts (1954)

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The Italian neo-realist influence that is so evident in René Clément’s Oscar-winning 1949 film Au-delà des grilles is also felt in this quirky romantic comedy, through its use of real locations (mostly in the bustling centre of London) and fluid, documentary-style photography. Along with some of his contemporaries (notably Georges Franju and Jean-Pierre Melville) René Clément had started to trail-blaze a new kind of cinema, departing from the conventions of the quality tradition that had grown stale and predictable by the early 1950s, and laying the groundwork for the French New Wave. If you did not know that Clément had directed Monsieur Ripois, you might easily mistake it for an early offering from one of the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers – Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle or François Truffaut. Continue reading