Le signe du lion (1959)

TSPDT Greatest Films #936 Le signe du lion (Eric Rohmer, 1959)

Eric Rohmer's first feature film is not his most interesting effort but still worth the look. Pierre, an American musician living in Paris on the hand of his wealthier friends receives a telegram telling him that he inherited from a rich aunt. A while after, he receives another invoice telling him that finally he doesn't inherit anymore. Having already spent all of his money celebrating the good news he doesn't have a cent when he hears the bad one. Meanwhile, his rich friends are all out of Paris on vacation, so he crashes on the street begging and living like a poor.

His poverty is represented with him wandering in the streets with a violon that gets more and more annoying as long as the films goes. The violon tune reminds of a Chaplinesque violon used to illustrate poverty and hunger. Despite, reminding some Antionionesque loneliness, Le signe du lion seems long and unmastered. The actors could have been directed with more disciplin and the film doesn't have this French New Wave energy and freshness one could hope to discover with a French film of 1959, i.e. À bout de souffle, Les 400 coups. I would recommend Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales before going for Le signe du lion even if it's a film to see to fully understand Eric Rohmer's "parcours".

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