Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

by guest writer

Les Enfants Terribles bears the unforgettable screenwriting of Jean Cocteau and the direction of Jean-Pierre Melville. Cocteau’s touch is present all the way from narration to various insertions of surrealist details. One wonders what this film would have looked like if the writer himself had directed it. But the answer to this is very simple, as Cocteau did marvelous things behind the camera. However, this should not question Melville’s merits for this wonderful work.

The story is centered on two very different teenage brothers, Paul (Edouard Dermithe) and Elisabeth (Nicole Stéphane). After an incident at school Paul remains confined to bed, imagining himself more ill than he really is. Locked up in the same house by unfortunate circumstances, the two brothers constantly bicker even in front of strangers. Taking a job as a model, Elisabeth meets a rich guy named Michael, who seems bewitched by her and falls in love with the girl. Would he ever have thought that this moment would be a turning point? A deep and complex study of human behaviour and teenage spirit, Les Enfants Terribles is questioning even the existence of a superior power in life. An unfolding drama visualized by one of cinema’s most subversive characters, Jean Cocteau.

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