Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Elevator to the Gallows

There's no such thing as "the perfect murder". Many people have tried to commit it but they always get caught in the end. (And said murder is frequently committed for petty reasons.)

If only Florence (Jeanne Moreau) and Julien (Maurice Ronet) got that memo in Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows. They plot to murder her husband and make it look like a suicide. That part goes without a hitch; it's the aftermath when everything starts falling to pieces.

Being an early entry in the French New Wave, Elevator to the Gallows has a few distinct elements associated with the movement. It's much more intimate with those walking the Parisian streets than with the story itself. (It might work with some films but not all of them.)

In comparison with Malle's later films like The Fire Within and Au revoir les enfants, there's a strong arrogance throughout Elevator to the Gallows. (Most of it is just from Florence.) The characters we're introduced to are more concerned about their own well-being over everything else (including better judgment). It's hard to feel any sympathy for them. (Okay, maybe Julien.)

Elevator to the Gallows may be deemed as one of the great films to hail from France but in reality, its pride overshadows said greatness more often than not. Still, Malle managed to redeem himself with some of his follow-up works. (Hey, not every career of prominence started on the right foot.)

My Rating: ****

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