The Rules of the Game (1939)
September 8, 2022 4:48 AM - Subscribe

In this melancholy French social satire, André (Roland Toutain) is having an affair with Christine (Nora Gregor), whose husband, Robert (Marcel Dalio), himself is hiding a mistress. Meanwhile Christine's married maid, Lisette (Paulette Dubost), is romantically entangled with the local poacher. At a hunting party, trusted friend Octave (Jean Renoir) also confesses his feelings for Christine, as the passions of the servants and aristocrats dangerously collide.

Directed and co-written by Jean Renoir.

(original French title: La règle du jeu)

96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Criterion and Kanopy. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (4 comments total)
Need to rewatch this one soon.
posted by praemunire at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2022

Oh, this one. I watched this one a few days after watching Ninotchka and it made for an interesting contrast - both were kind of initial knee-jerk reactions to the outbreak of war in Europe; but Ninotchka was more of a sentimentalized frothy comedy set a couple years beforehand (one of the posters breathlessly mentions that in the film, "Garbo laughs!"), where this had a similar focus but for very, very different reasons. There's a lengthy scene at a costume party where all of the subplots sort of all come to a head at the same time: Christine flirts with a random stranger in an effort to make both her husband and Andre jealous, Lisette's boyfriend has shown up with a gun because he thinks she's cheating on him and everyone is trying to chase him down, and the whole time Octave is randomly running around in a bear costume trying to get people to unzip it at the back because he can't reach. I summed it up on my blog as "it looks like someone tried to wrap up all the events from an entire season of Downton Abbey in only five minutes."

But by the end, that mayhem comes across as a sort of castigation of the elite ruling class in Europe: "y'all had all the power and all the influence, and instead of actually trying to lead us properly, y'all were getting caught up in really stupid shit like this, you assholes."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on September 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is officially my favorite movie. I could rewatch it forever, because each time I sympathize with someone different, but obviously, always with the working class.
posted by acrasis at 3:34 PM on September 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Ok I can't even tell any details of this story because it would be a shitty thing to do, but I saw this movie because some museum staffer was tasked to choose a "classic film" to screen for a literal billionaire and a number of much less wealthy people who benefited from his wealth (myself amongst them) and by the end of the movie said billionaire was visibly angry. Like, fuming, like, imagine if smoke could literally come out of a person's ears. An absolutely magnificent demonstration of the power of the arts.

I always wondered if the staffer lost their job or got promoted. I guess I'll probably never know.
posted by potrzebie at 11:18 PM on September 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

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