Renoir's rare 1926 adaptation of Zola's novel about a gamine's rise to riches and notoriety during the Second Empire, and widely regarded as the director's finest silent. True, the lead performance of Hessling is at the very least broad, eccentric and at odds with the overall naturalism of the piece, while for the first hour or so the film is rather static, mostly content simply to tell the story, record the performances, and lavish attention on Claude Autant-Lara's sumptuous sets. As the movie proceeds, however, with the amoral courtesan gleefully taking every opportunity to humiliate her various, rival suitors, the initially light-hearted satire gives way to a bleaker mood, admirably incarnated by the increasingly dark, shadowy images. Renoir's subtle way with detail, coupled with a beautifully restrained performance from Krauss as the Count Muffat, makes for an accumulation of psychological and emotional nuance that anticipates his (superior) later films.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Pierre Lestringuez Pierre Philippe, Jean Renoir|
Claude Moore Claude Autant-Lara