The recent rash of extramarital scandals in the lives of U.S. political figures and elected officials adds interest to La race des “seigneurs,” which Pascal Jardin and Pierre Granier-Deferre, the film’s director, adapted from Félicien Marceau’s novel Creezy. Alain Delon is Julien Dandieu, the married political leader who is having an affair with a popular fashion model, Creezy. Each passionately loves the other.
The time-scheme includes an intricate series of flashbacks—this, correlative to the complicated situation in which Julien finds himself. He could become a minister in the new government. However, Julien is a Leftist, a unionist who has risen up the ranks and married into wealth; the new government is conservative. As a consequence, his flirtation is perceived in some quarters as a betrayal of principles, a sell-out to personal ambition. Can former allies—socialists—support his move on up? Connected, respected, Renée Vibert (Jeanne Moreau, precise, convincing) is willing to help, arranging a meeting for Julien with the new finance minister, who demands of Julien certain conditions, among them that he give up Creezy. Meanwhile, Creezy, with all the insistence of a wife, has been pressuring Julien to give up politics and tend to their relationship instead. She, too, hands him an ultimatum, the proposed forfeit, her life. What will he choose?
Delon provides a deft portrait of a young man, always in a rush, who has long relied on his ability to charm his way out of the consequences of his selfishness, and Julien’s interaction with his son becomes a highlight—a testing-ground for his capacity to juggle competing responsibilities. Julien’s mother, not he, visits Betty, Julien’s wife (whom we never see), at hospital. The night he should be celebrating with Renée Julien is anxious about Creezy; yet he fails them both.
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