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Zazie Dans le Metro
France 1960
Directed by Louis Malle
Running time 96 minutes
Rated PG
2.5 stars


Louis Malle’s third feature is very much of its time and place, the French then having a great fondness for Chaplin and silent era comedies. The story such as it is, involves the escapades of cute young provincial girl. Zazie (Catherine Demongeot, who appeared briefly in Godard’s Une Femme Est Une Femme and a couple of other films in the 60s before disappearing) when she is left for the day with her Parisian uncle (Philippe Noiret). On one level it recalls Albert Lamorisse’s Le Ballon Rouge (1953) and the films of Jacques Tati and is simply a series of visual gags strung along a time line and exploiting the charms of vintage Paris. There is, however, a slight twisted element which means that this is anything but a children’s film. Based on a  popular novel by Raymond Queneau which I have not read and to which I assume Malle and screenwriter Jean-Paul Rappeneau have been faithful despite its apparent childlikeness it toys in absurdist way with some rather dark concepts such as murder and paedophilia. Queneau’s novel apparently stands out for its wordplay and perhaps on the page this worked but filmically it is protracted affair that is barely sustained by its period charm. BH

Available from: Aztec International

 

 

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