Good things may come in small packages, but that’s often not the case with omnibus films. The form thrived in the 1960s; Jean-Luc Godard, one of the six helmers in this collection, was perhaps the genre’s most ubiquitous contributor. JLG is joined by two other nouvelle vague stalwarts, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol; the cinema verité pioneer Jean Rouch; and the lesser-known directors Jean Douchet and Jean-Daniel Pollet in these middling, desultory shorts, each one set in a different neighborhood in the City of Light.
In two thirds of the collection, couples squabble; otherwise, a john and a prostitute defer the act in “Rue St. Denis,” and, in “Place de l’Etoile,” a man mistakenly thinks he’s killed a bum with his umbrella. Sometimes you see the city, sometimes you don’t (“La Muette” and “Rue St. Denis” consist almost entirely of interior scenes). Several of the episodes feel tossed off, with little affection for either character or location evident. The greatest pleasure is seeing an oily, hideous Claude Chabrol and his wife (and frequent star) at the time, Stéphane Audran, in his “La Muette,” playing a more odious version of the bickering, bourgeois couple that Chabrol would later specialize in savaging.
Cast and crew