Friday, October 25, 2013

Criterion on Hulu: The Rules of the Game (1939)

The Rules of the Game movie poster
The Rules of the Game (1939) – Directed by Jean Renoir; Written by Jean Renoir and Carl Koch; Starring Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parely, Odette Talazac, Claire Gerard, Anne Mayen, Lisa Elina, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, Roland Toutain, Gaston Modot, Jean Renoir, Pierre Magnier, Eddy Debray, Pierre Nay, Richard Francoeur and Leon Larive. 

By Kenny Howell

Another one of those movies that flirts with being the best of all time on my list. The director, Jean Renoir (Grand Illusion), could also be the best director who ever lived.

The Rules of the Game is the quintessential film about status. It follows a party at a French country estate, where the upstairs/downstairs politics plays as a farce. But it is much more than that. Nearly all of Renoir’s characters are denying themselves and others pleasure to keep status. When really, as World War II approaches, they should be embracing it.

The film is an ugly look at French culture, one to which the French didn’t take to kindly. They were depicted as murderous, uncaring beings, and they responded by burning down theaters and widely panning the film. However, after all these years, The Rules of the Game is recognized as a classic. 

Rating: ****

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