films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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Port of Shadows

Le Quai des Brumes
1938 / 91m - France
Crime, Romance
Port of Shadows poster

A surprisingly modern-looking film. The camera work is rather energetic, and the performances feel quite naturalistic, especially compared to other films from that era. Sadly, Port of Shadows is a late-30s films, which means that there's a lot of dialogue to wade through, which greatly hampers the pacing.

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Jean is a deserter who is trying to flee the country. When he arrives in Le Havre he decides to lie low for a while, before his attempt to cross the border. He finds refuge with a painter, but there he falls in love with Nelly. Jean is suddenly a lot less inclined to move away, but things aren't that easy.

If the film had introduced more explicit noir elements and put more effort in mood-building rather than dialogue, this would have been a much better film. I may have to dig a bit deeper into Carné's oeuvre, sadly, his later work hasn't really appealed to me so far. The potential for a good classic is definitely there, it's just a shame Carné didn't exploit it properly.

Children of Paradise

Les Enfants du Paradis
1945 / 189m - France
Drama, Romance
Children of Paradise poster

Overly long and not all that interesting. Some serious overacting and a tepid plot fail to engage, visually it's all very mediocre and the hustle and bustle of the artist life has been done much better. Wouldn't have been as bad if they kept it around 90 minutes, but twice the length felt like a complete waste of time.


Le Jour Se Leve
1939 / 93m - France
Crime, Romance
Daybreak poster

Film-noir is often seen as a very US-centric genre, but the French also created a fair share of films that fit the description. Daybreak is a very early example and only roughly meets the criteria, coming from a director who was obviously still trying to find out the best ways to incorporate sound.

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After committing murder, François retreats to his apartment and locks himself in. The police are hot on his tail, but after a failed attempt to enter his room they decide to retreat and regroup. During that night François thinks back on the love affair that would ultimately result in the murder.

The biggest difference with US films of that era is that the film isn't overflowing with dialogue. Gabin doesn't appear at ease though, as he seems to be shouting most of his lines. It's a very awkward delivery that makes it virtually impossible to take the drama serious. The rest of the film isn't much to look at either, which results in a pretty poor classic.