Série noire

Patrick Dewaere, one of the most talented French comic actors of the 70s, may have the saddest face in cinema. Known in the US mainly for his terrific performances in Bertrand Blier’s hit absurdist comedies Going Places and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Dewaere was a human “Pierrot” (the iconic sad clown of French theatre and Italian Commedia dell’arte) who found a neurotic humor in his own very real fragility; tragically, Dewaere’s own battles with depression culminated in his eventual suicide in 1982. This makes Série noire one of the most simultaneously emotionally affecting and tragic of Jim Thompson’s adaptations (by Georges Perec, no less). In the Thompson cavalcade of misanthropists, nihilists, and misogynists, one feels Dewaere’s desperation to be a hero, as he ends up just another pathetic sucker, impotent against the fates and destined to be eaten by bigger and smarter fish, with no morals, instead of few. A rare screening on 35mm of an overlooked gem.

Dir. Alain Corneau, 1979, 35mm, 111 min.