Movie of the Day: Le Feu Follet

Sean Stanley

After a decade of wanting to, I finally saw Le Feu Follet (1963), which is the best portrait of restless youth I’ve seen since the fish rumbled. I’ve wanted to see this film for so long that it was almost a defeat when Criterion released it… in that I didn’t get to find it after such a ferocious hunt; it was just basically given to me for the low price of somewhere between 20 and 40 bones.  Notwithstanding, thank you very much Criterion, who years ago I wrote and requested put out several films, among them: Le Samourai, Blow Out, Shoot the Piano Player, and Le Feu Follet – all of which have since been released, thank you again Criterion… and while we’re thanking them, thanks again for the upcoming releases Harold and Maude, Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr, and Being John Malkatrez.  But enough waxing the Criterion canon, back to the hunt: I looked at every video store in Southwestern Ontario, you name it – Suspect, Queen, Bonanza, Flixx – everywhere.  Kim’s in New York didn’t even have it, I called.  It was a bitch to find, like California Split before the dvd… then Criterion blew up and could acquire damn near the entire Louis Malle collection.  And so I finally watched it, why it took me two years to watch it, well, it was a matter of mood, and too much shit to do in the last few years.  I’m glad I waited though because it paid off like gangbusters.  The tale of a man with a “misspent” youth, revisiting old companions in Paris.  Oozing with melancholy and the post-party doldrums, Maurice Ronet nails this ghostlike role of a leathered rogue.  I needed a kick in the teeth, and it shattered the clackers.  Alain Leroy, put him up there with the Motorcycle Boy.  He reigned.

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