Le feu follet [1963]

27Feb12 – 10 – Le feu follet (Louis Malle: 1963)

LE FEU FOLLET (“The Fire Within”, 1963): 24 hours in the life of a recovering alcoholic who has decided to kill himself and spends a day and night revisiting his old haunts and saying farewell to his old friends. (His estranged wife lives in New York and deals with him through an intermediary. She also pays for his extended stay in the sanitarium where he detoxified but is unwilling or unable to leave.) There are any number of ways this premise could be handled from tearjerke

r or neurotic breakdown to black comedy, but Louis Malle maintains a slight distance: the movie is cool to the touch, but never chilly or clinical, and the gorgeous black and white cinematography and spare soundtrack (Satie) reinforce that coolness.But what really sets this film apart is the performance of Maurice Ronet as Alain Leroy. This is extraordinarily great film acting. The slightest cock of the head, momentarily pained look in the eyes, and brief flash of a smile do more than all the runny-nosed histrionics in fake accents ever could. 10/10. [2/27/12]



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