24 December 2020

Jean-Daniel Pollet's L'Amour c'est gai, l'amour c'est triste (1971)

After seeing Méditerranée and L'Ordre by Jean-Pollet, indeed after seeing his grave in Cadenet (Vaucluse), it came as some surprise to learn that the director I'd associated with avant-garde films also made weird situation comedies. I can't imagine Philippe Sollers or any of the Tel quel team heralding this film as a masterpiece, but...

We have something of a French version of a Broadway farce,  a vaudeville, with the shy, clown-like tailor Léon (Claude Melki) living in a two-room flat with his sister Marie (Bernadette Lafont), who pretends to be a fortune teller but is in reality a prostitute with her 'boyfriend' Maxime (Jean-Pierre Marielle) as her pimp, which Léon only latterly discovers. And then the unfortunate Arlette (Chantal Goya) arrives from Morlaix carrying little physical but much mental baggage and Léon falls in love with her but is unable to express it.

There are many shenanigans, Arlette is substituted as a prostitute but (unknown to her) Léon pays to would-be johns' money to Maxime, and anyway Arlette isn't so much a tart with a heart as a someone who hasn't the heart to be a tart. But the film is saved from a happy ending as Arlette goes away. It could have been worse. 

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