Fifth about The Seventh

La Bête Humaine

La Bête Humaine: it is symbolic that Jean Renoir’s film, adapted from Émile Zola’s novel of the same name, is a story set around trains and railways: when the plot starts moving, there is nowhere else it could go. Not that there is nothing wrong with it, mind you. As a formative noir, the story looks at the dark side of the human soul, in particular, the relationship between a jealous husband and his wife. Fernand Ledoux plays well as the possessive and pathetic man; his wife is played by Simone Simon, who as the in-house femme fatale mixes the right amount of seduction and defenselessness. Jean Gabin plays the soft-spoken, anguished train engineer who gets entangled in the couple’s affairs very well. Julien Carette plays his co-worker and best friend with a welcome touch of levity. Cinematographer Curt Courant moves the camera beautifully but the aesthetics are where the film resembles less a noir.

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