Serie Noire (1979)


Serie Noire Storyline

Franck Poupart is a slightly neurotic door-to-door salesman in a sinister part of Paris’ suburbs. He meets Mona, a teenager, who’s been made a prostitute by her own aunt. Franck would like to change his life and also save Mona from her aunt. Murder is the only solution he finds to achieve his goal… A very gloomy movie, exuding dispair and uneasiness, with pathetic characters.

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Serie Noire Movie Reviews

A strange but fascinating experience

One of the most original film experiences of the 70s is certainly French. Série noire is distinctive in its narrative and the form is never overwhelming the content.

Although most of it seems improvised, it is always surprising to learn that all of it was written down to the last word by Perec.

The most fascinating aspect of this movie is the angle of “harsh realism” that Corneau chose to tell the story. No external music is polluting the grimy atmosphere depicted with true to life colors and textures. And yet, it is one of the most romantic movie – in the purest form of the genre – that one can wish for.

And how can anyone not be touched by the late Patrick Deweare acting. It has been said that this movie took such a toll on the actor that some are almost suggesting that it was the starting point of his depressive state. It is truly a very moving, strong performance, full of surprise and nuance, almost so strong that it is unbearable to watch.

For those who are searching for a new kind of film making and acting, Série noire is certainly one of the best movies to provide such an experience.

A disturbing movie about madness

IMDb synopsis says that Franck Poupart, played by Patrick Dewaere, is ‘slightly neurotic’. It’s actually much worse, Poupart is a complete maniac, left unsupervised in a jungle of HLM, terrains vagues, poverty and filth. He even readily mumbles to himself that he’s psychotic.

I heard of Série noire when looking up Dewaere bio on wikipedia. It was mentioned how physically hard the filming was on the actors, and on Dewaere in particular. The characters keep fighting and shouting at each other, and they won’t stop until they’re completely exhausted or drunk. Except of course for Blier, who plays the soft spoken treacherous coward. I found this movie very close in spirit to Zola who would place weak personalities in a closed environment to sadistically observe what happens. Everyone is to blame for what happens, everyone is guilty.

This is a true chef d’œuvre, but a disturbing one, the kind of movie you’ll be thinking of for days to come. It’s all about madness, and you’ll wonder how far you are from falling into it.

Amazing french Film Noir

This is the second Jim Thompson adaptation I review here and it’s purely coincidental. I really must love Thompson’s style. I wasn’t expected a masterpiece when I bought Série Noire in DVD, tho. I’ve always been fond of the late Patrick Dewaere, I think he is one of the best French actors ever, and I like Corneau’s cinema, but Série Noire was unexpected and it is indeed extraordinary. It’s daring, tense and plunged into harsh realism. It’s the kind of film that stays with you once you’ve finished watching it. It shows how easy it is to lose control when society becomes a weight on personal identity. Série Noire is a different kind of Film Noir and probably the best French crime film among Le cercle rouge and Du Rififi chez les hommes. It has a ton of black humor and a bleak atmosphere. Corneau shoots Paris as if it was itself a character, a gloomy, grey and ruthless antagonist. The sordid locations and the moisty dirty apartments where the action takes place give a really weird and nightmarish mood to the film. The social pressure which the character is subject is huge and unbearable; it literally toys with him until he breaks. Patrick Dewaere shines like in no other films, he’s brilliant as the neurotic looser who gets wrapped into this tragic vortex after the killing of an old woman. His downfall somehow reminded me of the dizzying Richard Widmark’s runaway in Night and the city. Georges Perec’s dialogues are just great, very similar to Michel Audiard or Bertrand Blier’s style. The cast is perfect. Bernard Blier is excellent as usual and Marie Trintignant is mysterious and sensual. If you like 70’s French crime films, you have to watch it, this is one of the best.