blogger, Classics, Movies, The 500 Film Challenge, The Good Stuff

Les Cousins (The Cousins)

13 June 2014

Dear Being Chris,

It’s Friday the 13th and I chanced upon Claude Chabrol’s Les Cousins. It says on the back that this is a love story. Well, sort of. About this provincial man going to Paris to study Law and live with his cousin and then he falls in love. The summary at the back’s quite vague so I’m giving it a chance. Plus its a film by Chabrol and you know how the French New Wave gets me all excited. By the way, that transition from Charles bedroom to Paul’s driving in Paris was cute.

Paul took him to the Latin Quarter, in a club called the Union. There his cousin introduces him to the locals while flirting with a girl named Martine. While he watches a game of bridge,walks in a girl whose smile can easily put a strain in your heartbeat. Her name is Florence. They get introduced and he lights her cigarette. But she leaves after seeing Vonvon in just a split second. Ah, there goes that momentous look as Charles comes after her. He finds her outside walking away with another man. He decides to go inside a bookstore and looks for a Balzac novel. The bookshop owner is delighted and lets him take Lost Illusions for free.

His cousin Paul looks charming even with the trimmed beard all over his chin and the sides of his mouth. He gathers some friends in their apartment for a little soirée. It’s early 60s France but he plays Mozart for the evening.

Charles reminds me of Montgomery Cliff. Florence appears in the scene a few moments later, she looks very pretty. He tells her “I’ve been waiting for you ever since, well, for a very long time.”

After Mozart, Paul puts Wagner on. Suddenly the lights go out, and in comes Paul with a soldier’s hat and a candlestick holder filled with candles. He recites a poem which ends as Charles and Florence kiss. The record scratches as Philippe, one of Paul’s friends makes a scene.

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Charles and Florence flee, as they hide behind a skinny tree they kiss. It was quite romantic. I love it when a man in a film becomes completely bashful of himself and thinks he says stupid things or if he’s got a stupid face. He confirms this with Florence and like this manic-pixie girl she’s becoming she tells him flat out that she thinks he’s got a lovely voice. She begs him to recite her a poem, but instead he tells her “I’d rather think it for you and then you tell me if it’s good”, and they just stare at each other for a while. He confesses he loves her but worries about the guy he saw her with. She tells him he’s just a friend, but he tells her he’s not all about “just friends”. He asks her out for a quick drive but this fancy meet-cute gets cut short after Paul ends the party and drives Florence along with another woman. He ends up in a different car with thoughts in his mind about his feelings.

Is Paul in love with Florence? But there’s something strange about Florence too.

Charles asks Florence to meet after class but she forgets the time and ends up talking to Paul and his hustler of a friend Clovis. He convinces her that wanting him for herself would be selfish. “You are meant for caressing, not for feelings” he tells her. It appears that Florence has had a reputation of sleeping with many of Paul’s friends. She reconsiders an offer to sway her feelings towards Paul instead. Clovis convinces her that having sex with Paul would be a better way to forget her feelings with Charles and in a way she won’t become a distraction to Charles studies. And as we know it, they head over to the bedroom.

As awkward as it sounds, this becomes both heartbreaking and motivating for Charles to move on and study further.

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Juliette Mayniel and Jean-Claude Brialy
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The stunning Juliette Mayniel as Florence

Paul passes the exam as he predicted without even taking the time to read his notes. Not only did he get the girl, he gets to prove he’s far more better than Charles. Unfortunately for Charles, he lost the girl and his chances of getting through with life as that violent ending occurs.

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"We were happy, us three" Juliette Mayniel, Jean Claude Brialy and Gèrard Blain
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A longing exists between Florence and Charles
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Charles' innocence has been broken after a recent discovery

Paul’s thrill-seeking life may not have been used to the kind of honesty Charles was about to afflict him, but I guess in a way it was better that Charles had died that way rather than be filled with more unfortunate events by means of killing Paul. It saddened me though that his love for Florence had to be ruined that early. It was selfish for Paul to think that the two did not deserve the kind of relationship they would have if they were to become a couple.

Well, I enjoyed that drama Chris. The close-ups on these three main characters were stunning. Also, that bit when Paul was waking up his Italian-Jewish friend Marc had a close up and said, “You scared me Paul.” That was clever.vIt’s one of the most memorable lines one could ever say in a black and white French New Wave film like this.

Goodnight,
From one half of your beloved Kinoc twins,
Princess.

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