Mon père avait raison
Mon père avait raison
After being left for another man by his wife, Charles Bellanger raises his only son to fear and suspect women. Years later, such an education is bearing fruit.
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May 16, 2018 at 07:05 PM
Ooh La La
'My Father Was Right' has a somewhat different feel to the other films I've seen from Sacha Guitry - the wit is still there but wrapped around real-world sadness and heartbreak, adding an emotional weight I've not seen in his films before, most prominently in the center of the film, where the now old man is visited by the wife who once betrayed and abandoned him. It's a beautifully maintained scene, both funny and sincere in its pain, and Guitry himself is flawless in it.
Most of Guitry's films are patchy, and this one is no exception, but this additional dimension raises it above many of the rest.
It's all in the delivery of the lines - at the speed of light
I watched this movie again the other evening, and then watched a 2008 Parisian theater production of the original play (at the Théâtre Edward VII). An interesting contrast.
Guitry delivers his lines at the speed of light, with a precision that often comes off as angry. The 30-year-old father in the 2008 version is far kinder in Act I.
But in Act II, the confrontation between the now 50-year-old main character and his wife, who left him 20 years before and now wants him to take her back, to give her "her place" in his household again, the give and take between his anger and her completely immoral manipulation of abstractions like "honor" and "fidelity" is remarkable in the 1930s original, and rather pitiful in the 2008 version. In the 2008 version, the wife comes off as an air-head. In the 1930s version, she is a bright woman acting out a role she has clearly rehearsed carefully. The speed with which Guitry delivers his lines at her makes them resemble ammunition.
There are parts of this 1930s movie that are, I suppose, weaker than others. But seeing Guitry when angry using language as a weapon with which to shoot down his adversary is rather impressive. You'd have to speak French well to appreciate it, though. If you need subtitles, you'd miss the effect entirely.
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"One Sorrow expels another,one swallows not a Summer."
After having problems with my new laptop,I was pleased to finally get everything sorted last night. Wanting to continue taking part in ICM's French film challenge,I decided to view the second title in Arrow's Sacha Guitry box set.
View on the film:
For their second presentation in the set, Arrow offer a solid picture transfer with film grain and no lines or spots, but noticeably having a somewhat muffled soundtrack (likely caused by how the sound was originally recorded.) Coming off as hostel towards film with previous work The New Testament,here writer/director/acting auteur Sacha Guitry shows a remarkable change in taking his play to the screen. Whilst continuing his chamber piece/stage bound era, Guitry closely works with cinematographer Georges Benoit and editor Myriam Borsoutsky to give his show some dazzle with stylish edits giving the conversations a slickness,and Guitry also using close-ups that let the viewer get close to the family.
Adapting his own one location "chamber piece"/stage play,the screenplay by Guitry impressively avoids feeling confined,by Guitry giving the family dialogue with a real zest,as the father/son different views on women leads to the son having to hold the cards to his love life close to his chest. Building on the themes of his The New Testament, Guitry balances the dry wit with a dramatic heft over the dad feeling the passage of time,and of loves who have slipped from his hands. Appearing now to be completely at ease in front of the camera,Guitry gives a blistering performance as Charles Bellanger,via delivering his dialogue with in a whip-smart,almost Screwball Comedy speed that makes room for daddy.