THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL (Jean Renoir, Jean Tédesco, 1928)

Shortly after completing “La petite marchande d’allumettes,” based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen, Jean Renoir and Catherine Hessling divorced, making it the last film where Renoir directed Hessling. Here, the usually deficient Hessling charms, the whole film enchants, and Renoir achieves poignancy that is wedded to incomparable visual beauty.      Karen, who is starving, […]

INSPECTOR BELLAMY (Claude Chabrol, 2009)

Claude Chabrol is one of the five greatest French filmmakers of all time. (The other four, alphabetically, are Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Renoir, Alain Resnais.) Along with Godard, he was the most prolific. Chabrol died last year, making Inspector Bellamy—originally, Bellamy—his final film. This masterpiece contains one of cinema’s most piercing utterances. (Chabrol and […]

LA FILLE DE L’EAU (Jean Renoir, 1924)

The first film that Jean Renoir solo-directed is a slight, intermittently lovely thing that accomplishes two tasks: it occasions a flexing of all manner of cinematic technique while showcasing its star, Renoir’s wife at the time, Catherine Hessling, in the lead role. Written as an implausible rural melodrama by Pierre Lestringuez, La fille de l’eau—literally, […]