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Les Scélérats (F 1960, R. Hossein)

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BeitragVerfasst am: 18.03.2019 00:51    Titel: Les Scélérats (F 1960, R. Hossein) Antworten mit Zitat

gesehen am 16.03.2019 (Kino: DFF Frankfurt); 2/5

A tale of two houses. On one side of the street, a french family lives a quiet, uneventful life. Not necessarily a happy and content one, but all the frictions, all the neurosis are contained, bottlet up in a few tight rooms, in a modest, claustrophobic family home. The sole street window is used for looking out, scanning the neighborhood, but it doesn't provide insights into the lives that are lived behind it.

The window of the neighborhing house, a building constructed in the modern, American way, with a huge glass front only insufficently protected by sun-blinds, are made to be looked into first, looked out of second. Or rather: if at all, because the people living in this house, a childless american couple, don't need to feed on their neighbors lifes. They provide for their own drama, because with them, everything's out in the open.

Interior design is often key in Hossein's films, and especially in this one. The film never tires of looking at the "american" home's living room, a space of many mysteries, although it's more intricate than vast. Nothing is hidden, but there's also no plain sight, just cascades of gazes: the maid looking through the serving hatch at the man of the house (Hossein), who stares at his drunk wife (Michele Morgan) who in turn gazes out into nothingness. Especially curious is the abundance of staircases, which are used as focal points of and so many stages for the dramatic events that start unfolding once the daughter of the French family next door starts working as a maid in the glass palace.

(Hossein is smooth but maybe not quite as melancholical as his role would demand, but Morgan provides enough psychodrama for both of them, anyway.)

Hossein's film, while staying true to its minimalist design throughout (whenever someone drives away from the two houses the film unfolds in, he or she inevitably ends up at the same railway crossing, as if this is all that's left of the rest of the world) cleverly shifts between different tones and genres. What starts out as a light, almost satirical comedy slowly reveals itself to be a psychological melodrama - but the mood is never as fatalistic as a plot synopsis (or the rather ill-adviced, plushy-noiry voice-over) would suggest. For most of the film, things are kept up in the air and, all things considered, both the Americans and the French profit from their new acquaintances.
"Film is like a battleground: love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion."
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