Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boudu Saved from Drowning

Boudu sauvé des eaux; Comedy, France, 1932; D: Jean Renoir, S: Michel Simon, Charles Granval, Marcelle Hainia, Sévérine Lerczinska

Edouard Lestingois is a middle aged book seller in Paris. He is married to Emma but cheats on her with the maid. One day, while he accidentally observed the city with his telescope, he spots how a tramp jumps from a bridge into the river. Edouard reacts immediately: he jumps into the river and saves the man from drowning. He tells him that his name is Boudu and that he doesn't like life. He is strange and unpredictable, spits on the floor and cleans his shoes with sheets. Soon, Boudu starts and affair with Emma who also catches Edouard cheating on her. After their ship is tipped, Boudu leaves the family.

Mild comedy "Boudu Saved from Drowning", that gently mocks the bourgeoisie, is one of the earlier films by the famous director Jean Renoir. On one hand, the film works, but on the other hand, it doesn't work well enough. The story is comprised out of small humorous vignettes (a girl gives the tramp Boudu some money for bread, but he just gives it to some rich man; Edouard saves Boudu from drowning and all the people disperse when he mentions that he needs a place to stay) that give the story as a whole a light and relaxed tone, except that they are not particularly funny, nor intense, whereas the ending seems completely arbitrarily. In any case, it inspired the American remake "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" 50 years later, which wasn't so great either. Also, it has at least one wonderful dialogue ("I would like to buy the book 'The Flowers of Evil'." - "I'm sorry sir, this is a bookstore, not a flower shop!").


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