“Itinerary of a spoiled child”, “One + one”… The 5 best and the 5 worst films of Claude Lelouch

Horrifying at times, luminous at other times… Claude Lelouch’s long filmography can only be divisive. But as his new film with a very… Lelouchi title is released, love is better than life, Marianne plunged back into its previous opuses to deliver a now traditional Top 5 / Flop 5. Beware, subjectivity guaranteed.


5. A Man and a Woman (1966)

Chabadabada, chabadada… We’re not going to repeat the pitch for this cult film which won the Palme d’or at Cannes, two Oscars and four Golden Globes the same year and brought critical and public fame to Claude Lelouch. But we still love, 56 years after its release, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouck Aimé, legendary couple under the cold sky of Deauville, the deserted hotel, the empty beach, the wind blowing the sand, the emerging smiles, confidences delivered in one breath, superb black and white, suspended moments. Even if the scenario fits on a postage stamp – two beings wounded by life learn to love again – the essential is elsewhere, in the moving camera, in the music of Francis Lai, Pierre Barouh and Nicole Croisille, in the divine plans , in the magnetism of its performers and in the infinite sensuality of these undecided hearts. Timeless and universal.

4. Each Other (1981)

Family fresco centered on four lineages of different nationalities (French, Russian, German and American) and three generations linked by the love of music, this monster film of three hours auscultates, from 1936 to 1981, destinies marked by the Second World War world. As prima ballerina Jorge Donn says of a fallen Russian soldier: ” Those who declare war have neither ties nor love. Not for the actors of Lelouch.

With a silky voiceover, that of Francis Huster, a five-star cast – Geraldine Chaplin, Nicole Garcia, Macha Méril, Fanny Ardant, Robert Hossein, Daniel Olbrychski, James Caan, Richard Bohringer, Jacques Villeret, Jean-Claude Brialy… – sensitive sequences – a conductor who nevertheless decides to perform in an empty room – and an exceptional finale where Jorge Donn flies away on Ravel’s Boléro choreographed by Maurice Béjart, Lelouch offers a delicate and powerful hymn to tolerance .

3. The Happy New Year (1973)

A thriller in the form of a romantic comedy. Lelouch has no equal when he turns actors he venerates and to whom he leaves all their place on the screen. Here, Lino Ventura, as a romantic robber trying to conquer an emancipated Françoise Fabian, helped by a Charles Gérard, as a faithful friend and ready for anything, including robbing a Van Cleef jewelry store in Cannes, reputed to be unbreakable. With his light, naturalistic camera and chiseled dialogue, Lelouch films the preparations for the robbery with as much grace as the budding love story between Lino Ventura and Françoise Fabian.

As a bonus, a cult sequence, a nod to his own filmography: prisoners whistle A man and a woman during the weekly prison screening. The Happy New Year, which Stanley Kubrick projected to his team before starting each of his shoots, has, almost 50 years later, lost none of its freshness and elegance.

2. Adventure is Adventure (1972)

A gem of comedy served by a quintet of outstanding actors having fun like crazy. Lino Ventura, Jacques Brel, Charles Denner, Aldo Maccione and Charles Gérard embody robbers converted into political crime, trying to kidnap a Swiss diplomat or organize a revolution in a banana republic.

Filled with cult lines – “ Capital is over! The Fifth is over! », « Is power really profitable? », « Stalin, driver of the revolution, it’s a metaphor », this whirling tenth feature film by Lelouch is a jubilant farce that shoots post-sixty-eight ideals on sight. And to think that when it was released, this film was accused of being reactionary! It was to forget that he is above all, like the famous joke delivered by Lino Ventura, ” Marxist, Groucho tendency “. Tasty.

1. Itinerary of a Spoiled Child (1988)

With this thirtieth film, Claude Lelouch confirms not only that he is a great director but also that he is capable of damaging a legend of the 7th art. It’s not nothing. Jean-Paul Belmondo, here, scratching his image of magnificent and tender thug, breaks with himself. His character, Sam Lion, a man in the prime of life, abandoned by his mother when he was only 6 months old and to whom everything has succeeded, decides to disappear, to change his identity and to live in adventurer. But one of his former employees, superbly portrayed by Richard Anconina, will find him in the depths of the African bush and lead him to reconnect with his family. With a swirling camera and a scenario full of humanity, Lelouch makes people love life, the one we suffer and the one we have chosen. A must to see and review.


5. A man a woman already twenty years old, 1986

So there, we pinch ourselves. By capitalizing on its greatest success and resuming its cult couple, exactly twenty years after the release of the cult A man, a woman, Lelouch hoped to play the nostalgia and the cash drawer. Except that the sauce no longer takes, the shots are devoid of any emotion but filled with people – PPDA, Gérard Oury, Michèle Morgan – and the plot turns out to be calamitous, bland and uninteresting. Apart from the touching scene of the reunion of the old lovers, who have become rally director and film producer, shot in improvisation, everything smells of mothballs.

Lelouch looks at his navel and fame in a totally sterile and superfluous mise en abyme. In the casting, the Lelouch family is reunited, Marie Sophie L., her companion, Évelyne Bouix, her ex-companion, Salomé and Sarah, her daughters, and, of course, the “chabadabadadieuseries” of rigor. We forget. Fortunately, Lelouch will sign, in 2019, a new sequel, more touching and more inspired, The best years of a life, where the magic of love shines through again, under the wrinkles.

4. Les Miserables, 1995

Undoubtedly the worst adaptation of the gigantic work of Victor Hugo, brought up to date with the Lelouch Touch, namely casting, melodrama and good feelings. Except that there, by dint of playing with the eras – from the Great War to the Second and the German occupation in France – and the characters, Lelouch loses us and, above all, annoys us. Because it is not enough to bring together Jean-Paul Belmondo, Annie Girardot, Philippe Léotard, Clémentine Célarié, Jean Marais, Philippe Khorsand and Rufus to make a good film, even and above all with a handheld camera.

Lelouch yielding to his passion for historical frescoes, tangles the film to deliver a nonsense gloubi-boulga on miserable people who are perpetuated from generation to generation. The ace. We prefer to dive back into the romantic and virtuoso performance given by Robert Hossein in 1982 with Lino Ventura Michel Bouquet and Jean Carmet.

3. One+one, 2015

A love story on Indian soil where Claude Lelouch spends his time doing product placement, such as this Mercedes in which Christophe Lambert drives, who plays the French ambassador, or this Chopard watch filmed in close-up, adorning the wrist by Jean Dujardin, who embodies a music composer falling in love with Anna, a diplomat’s wife portrayed by Elsa Zylberstein.

By plane, by train, by boat, by car, these two crisscross India in pasteboard, take part in ritual ceremonies, are embraced by the holy Amma and rant about existence in business class in a country where 90% of working people earn less than 125 euros per month. ” Don’t you think we’re doing a bit too much? “says Jean Dujardin to Elsa Zylberstein. How to say… yes. Sore concerns for a sore film.

2. Men women, instructions for use, 2008

The eternal subjects exploited by Lelouch, but this time with Bernard Tapie and Ophélie Winter as guest-stars. We could fear the worst with this marketing casting, we were right. A businessman – Tapie, of course – meets Fabrice Luchini, a sickly hypochondriac, in a doctor’s waiting room. Against all odds, these two become friends. And hold forth for more than two hours on the things of life as vain as they are hollow. The scene where they philosophize on Pascal is a monument of the genre.

Uninspired, Lelouch, as usual, brings together characters who should never have met, but there, like the spectator, even the supporting roles are bored. Charles Gérard is yawning, Ticky Holgado is chomping at the bit and Daniel Gélin is jaw dropping. Clumsy staging, lyrical dialogue that falls flat and a boring script. We zap.

1. The Beautiful Story, 1991

Two thousand years of hardship for a second of eternity proclaimed the poster of the film. And for the spectator, 210 minutes of suffering. Two hundred and ten minutes where we have to endure cliches on crappy existential questions, life, death, love, the eternal restart… Hang on: nowadays, Jesus, interpreted by Gérard Lanvin, comes out of prison, falls in love with Marie, played by Marie-Sophie L., a teacher in need of National Education, while Simon, a policeman camped by Vincent Lindon, pursues Odana, sublime Béatrice Dalle, convinced that he has already met her in another life. And for good reason, all these characters met during the occupation of Judea by Rome, two thousand years ago. Draft, cacophonous, chaotic, this shoddy esotericism punctuated by the guitars of the Gypsy Kings is saved only by the grace of a radiant Béatrice Dalle.

Indoors, love is better than life, by Claude Lelouch.

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“Itinerary of a spoiled child”, “One + one”… The 5 best and the 5 worst films of Claude Lelouch