On Les Enfants Terribles, written by Jean Cocteau and directed Jean-Pierre Melville

This was pretty good. The subject matter – incestuous love between a brother and sister in their teens – had me twisting in my chair at times, but since that must certainly have been the intention of Cocteau (and Melville), I have to say they were successful. Paul and Elisabeth live in extremely close quarters, in which they act out an obsessive love/hate relationship that has less to do with love and hate than promoting and then denying the sexual attraction they search for in one another. The way they manipulate others into reinforcing this behavior goes from pathetic to pathological.

All the fussing about over Paul (Edouard Dermithe) in the beginning, after he’s hit with a snowball, was pretty ridiculous, but the acting of both Dermithe and a young and beautiful Nicole Stéphane as Elisabeth is first rate. Much of the dialogue and plotting was awfully repetitive, but then this also seems as effective a way any to show the hell of obsessive and mutually enforced narcissism, from which they refuse to turn away. Or are unable to turn from – in the end, I’m not sure there’s a difference.


  1. almostgotit says

    Eww. Being made uncomfortable about something we already feel uncomfortable about, which also seems to be something the film makers also feel uncomfortable about, is instructive how?

    Metaphorically? Oh dear.

    My husband and I once saw a lovely little art house film called “Short Bus” by mistake. We stayed until the end, too. I was the only woman in the theatre, and we were the only ones watching it while also sitting next to anyone else, Yah, it was that kind of a film. Wow. I even stayed until the END, either because I’m a skinflint or because I’m stubborn, not sure which. So can I just go to “Wall-ee” again this time, instead?

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    Short Bus … “Voyeurism is Participation”

    “A group of New Yorkers get caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its blend of art, music, politics, and carnality.”

    Sounds good to me!

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