Two Early Claude Chabrol Films On Criterion DVD

Out now on Criterion DVD are two early films by French director Claude Chabrol: Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins. Le Beau Serge (1958) was Chabrol's first film in which an ill man (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns to his small village home to get well and finds his old friend Serge (Gerard Blain) a hopeless alcoholic, unhappily married. As he navigates the dark underbelly of village life, his attempt to make things right for his friend and himself go awry. There is a scene at the end where he searches in the snow for a doctor while Serge's wife goes into labor which is beautifully constructed. Les Cousins is Chabrol's first masterpiece. A young man named Charles (Gerard Blain) comes to Paris to live with his bohemian cousin Paul (Jean-Claude Brialy) while attending college. The cousin has countless decadent parties, while Charles attempts to study in his room. When Charles falls for Florence (Juliette Mayniel), Paul cruelly sweeps her up and moves her into the apartment as his own girlfriend. This deeply ironic tale has a killer Wagnerian ending. These films with the same actors are like yin/yang in a way. One goes to the country and gets disenchanted, and one goes to the city with the same results. But both show an early mastery of craft.

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