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In French the word
comédien translates as actor, while comédie is, simply, comedy in English. With this linguistic link between the players and the comedy genre it's hardly surprising that the French are really good at cinema comedy. After all, it goes right back to the Lumière Brothers, the fathers of modern cinema.
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La dorMeuse Duval
La dorMeuse Duval
This film is categorised as a comedy, and for the first half one can believe it is. But as things progress it becomes very cynical and while comic elements remain, the unfolding events are far from funny. It is based quite closely on the novel Les Bottes Rouge by Franz Bartelt.

The title is a play on words from the title of the poem ‘Le Dormeur du val’, penned by Arthur Rimbaud in 1870.

Rimbaud was born in Charleville-Mézières, a town on the River Meuse close to the Belgian border and the setting for this film. The film’s director, Manual Sanchez, was inspired by this poem, and another by Rimbaud entitled Ophélie, and you will see the clear influence of the latter from the image above.

Duval is the surname of a young woman, Maryse, who has returned from Paris after being unsuccessful in making a career as an actor. On her return she takes a job in a factory helping Basile Matron, known as a harmless individual who looks after the stockroom. Basile’s wife, Rose, who he adores, is a highly strung woman who enjoys classical music and sensual dancing. They have a neighbour, a journalist with the local paper and budding author, who seems to fantasise over Rose. He and Basile are good friends and drinking partners.

While Basile’s life is far from ideal, it is completely upended when Rose suspects him of having a relationship with Maryse. We are left unsure whether this in fact happened, since while at one point Basile implies it did, Maryse isn’t as forthcoming. Whatever the truth of the matter, the events that subsequently unfold send Rose into hysteria and depression, temporarily alleviated by a suave new piano teacher who turns out to be a conman. Meanwhile Basile ends up needing psychiatric treatment, with worse to follow. And Maryse doesn't fare too well either!

This is a very unusual film but in many respects it’s very French.