Mondo Digital gives Claude Chabrol’s first two films, Le beau Serge and Les cousins—also the first films by the legendary French director in the Criterion Collection—a proper introduction: “The film that really started it all for Chabrol was La beau Serge, a potent drama with stylish flourishes that anticipated his more Hitchcock-flavored films to come . . . Shot with a stark, beautiful simplicity in Chabrol’s hometown of Sardent, this film is often cited as the first genuine French New Wave film.” And then, “French director Claude Chabrol pushed closer to the thriller territory that would establish his name with the more internationally recognized Les cousins . . . Les cousins could justifiably be called Chabrol’s first genuine masterpiece.”
Two Slant writers take on the films: Andrew Schenker extols Le beau Serge’s “superb specificity of detail and virtuoso display of sickening verve,” and calls Criterion’s release “a fitting testament to the late director’s brilliance,” while Glenn Heath Jr. praises Les cousins as “intoxicating” and a “brutal examination of class divisions that produce lasting social consequences.” For DVD Verdict, Clark Douglas writes, “Those with an interest in the French New Wave owe it to themselves to check out Le beau Serge, an involving directorial debut which announced Chabrol as a director to be reckoned with.” And for DVD File, Mike Restaino writes, “Les cousins is both lean and dense, a movie as steeped in the language of cinema as it is fresh and new . . . This is boy-meets-girl territory, only with heavy doses of Hitchcock—and even more prominent, Lang—thrown in to disorient, confuse, and excite the audience.”
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