Naughty Society: Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game”

Poster for ''La Règle du jeu, directed by Jean...
Poster for ”La Règle du jeu, directed by Jean Renoir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the late 1930s, film artist Jean Renoir was not happy with French society, which he exposed in La Regle du jeu (1939)—The Rules of the Game—as unserious and self-seeking and infernally adulterous.  Curiously, class distinctions take a step back (both Christine and her chambermaid cheat on their husbands), but the camaraderie we see is usually limited to one’s own class.  And yet this camaraderie, such as that between Christine and Genevieve de Marras, quickly departs, and certainly without it, there is mayhem.

For all this, The Rules of the Game is a “pleasant” movie (Renoir’s word, translated); it is pronouncedly comical.  It is a classic, made so partly by some excellent acting.  Marcel Dalio, for example, looks right as the Marquis Robert, but is also unerring with the character’s casual decadence and tired vigor.  Mila Parely, another example, cleverly plays Genevieve, the marquis’s mistress, displaying a range of emotion as admirable as her poise.  But why was Rules Renoir’s last great film?

(In French with English subtitles)

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