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- La Chienne
- 91 min.
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Strangely, the ending was comforting.
Jean Renoir's La Chienne (The Bitch) starts with a Punch and Judy show presenting the leads as neither heroes, nor villains, just people like you and me. Despite this directorial conceit, the unfolding drama is real, raw, and brutal. Legrand is an unassuming cashier who paints on the weekends, disrespected by colleagues and browbeaten by his wife. He meets and falls for Lulu, a prostitute directed by her pimp, a domineering brute known as Dédé, to siphon money and eventually art from him. If the drama doesn't want you to think of them as heroes, they do all take turns being villains and victims. Each in their own way, they are fools, led down the wrong path by their vices, people making mistakes and paying the price for them. All the relationships are toxic, and any feeling of triumph we might share with them (for example, when Legrand cleverly extricates himself from his wife's domination) is immediately followed by soul crushing events. Renoir said his piece in that opener and then lets the story play out without intruding opinion. His camera is ambivalent and so everything comes as a surprise... a hard slap.
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In 10 official lists
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This movie ranks #67 in Time Out's The 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #76 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #94 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #95 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #112 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #148 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #164 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #645 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #937 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #958 in The Criterion Collection