I relate to Jean Renoir’s character. Octave. Fat, optimistic, and full of regrets.
Jean Renoir was, of course, the director of this film.
Likewise, he plays a very important dramatic role in the production.
I would argue that his role is the most essential of all.
In this film of rich, pithy characters, Octave sticks out like a polished stone.
Not a precious stone.
Simply a smooth, common rock. A paperweight. Our anchor.
And this is apparent on first viewing, yet La Règle du jeu necessitates multiple viewings to truly appreciate.
My language is not French. Yes, perhaps it is my favorite language, but I am indebted to the subtitles.
And La Règle du jeu is replete with overlapping, symbolic dialogue.
But you don’t want to hear such boring play-by-play.
If you are reading, you want something special.
And I want something special when I watch a film.
Jean Renoir (son of the more well-known Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir) delivers a masterpiece here.
There is a Great Gatsby effect which may put off modern audiences of modest means (like myself).
To wit, who wants to hear about rich people problems?
All I can do is urge patience when watching this film.
It may not immediately come off as riveting, but it is well worth it if you stick it out till the end.
What should be pointed out is that Renoir was apparently making a statement about the upper classes which paints them in a not altogether flattering light.
More directly, this film takes aim at the elite and lets ’em have it (but in a very sneaky way).
And yet, it is not all about class warfare.
Far from it.
It embraces and repudiates.
Actions can be deplorable. But those who commit deplorable actions are still humans.
We all have the capacity within us for unspeakable error.
Few among us truly stand out as regards vice.
But we are all touched by the world.
I estimate it quite unlikely than a truly monastic monk or nun is reading this post.
And if they are, I hope they are brewing up a nice batch of beer in Belgium.
The rules of the game.
Hired lackeys who whack the trunks of trees to drive the animal life out of the forest.
Moving like a line of riot police.
All for the rich to have their fun.
But Renoir is the true artist.
He makes it clear.
The rich aren’t all bad.
The poor aren’t all saints.
Both classes lean to the middle.
There are admirable actions from both sides.
Perhaps the class structure itself is suspect.
Perhaps it is a vestige whose time has come.
But reality is that rich and poor will wake up on the globe tomorrow.
Staggered in times. Zones.
Rich at their leisure (we imagine).
Poor at the more brutal hours (no doubt).
The poor run around like rabbits chased out of the forest.
The rich sit in their hunting blinds and preach gun control.
The true hunt now is the techno hunt. The bio hunt.
But a girl and a gun can still carry a movie.
And so, I have rambled enough about La Règle du jeu. It is truly an indispensable film.
Something about it is almost impenetrable for an English speaker (monoglot) in the 21st century.
And so we hope the French haven’t forgotten their fondateurs like Jean Renoir.
It’s up to all of us to preserve these slices of history.
Yes, it is fiction. Yet, real life was employed (implored) in the making of this fiction (which seeks to be lifelike).
An endless reflection.
In the hall of mirrors at Versailles.