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France 1960
Directed by
Louis Malle
96 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Zazie Dans Le Metro

Louis Malle’s third feature is very much of its time and place when the French had 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, 1961,  and a couple of other films in the 1960s 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 that exploits 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.




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