Les Choses de la Vie’s place in film history

October 3rd, 2013 - Graham Eley

It is perhaps more than a coincidence that Claude Sautet did not compete for the Cannes’ Palme d’Or and come to international prominence until his fourth feature, ‘Les Choses de la Vie’ (‘The Things of Life’).  After making his big screen debut with ‘Bonjour sourire!’ as early as 1956, he made two films during the Sixties, ‘Classe Tous Risques’ (‘The Big Risk’) and ‘L’arme à gauche (‘The Dictator’s Guns’), and their polished and considered style clashed with the then vibrant, progressive and, often, freewheeling, La Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave), which dominated critical discourses.

 

But things had changed when ‘Les Choses de la Vie’ arrived at the beginning of the next decade; La Nouvelle Vague filmmakers had moved on to other concerns and the world was a far more introspective, cautious and uncertain place.  The time was right for Sautet’s more reflective approach and look at ordinary middle class life, which we see through the memories of a Parisian architect fighting a losing battle after a serious car accident.

 

And yet, it is far from being an exercise in conservative filmmaking.  Viewing the film now free of the muddled decade end post-mortems, it comes across as the natural heir to another vein of Sixties modernism, Left Bank intellectualism. Sautet’s exploitation of montage and striking cinematography is in perfect alignment with the protagonist rationalising the contradictions that confounded him in life but where any new clarity is hard fought and always qualified.  It offers a very different view of the bourgeoisie from Chabrol’s out and out cynicism; one that does not shy away from its foibles but contextualises them within a much deeper psychological profile.  In its mix of ambiguity and partial resolution, there is an obvious bridge from Alain Resnais’ complex narrative structures to the forensic psychological dramas prevalent in North European cinema ever since.order cialis canada cialis 2.5 mg cost price of cialis at costco cialis 30 day cost generic cialis online usa cialis kidney pain cialis fast delivery

 

F T

Discussion

Leave a Reply