The Fire Within (1963)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Le Feu Follet

France, 1963.  .  Adaptation by Louis Malle, based on the novel by . Cinematography by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Louis Malle goes deep into the soul with this beautiful look at the life of a hopeless man.  is terrific as a blocked writer, recently returned to Paris from New York, who resolves to kill himself before spending his final day wallowing in misery. He sleeps with his girlfriend, consults with the doctor at the clinic where he has been living to cure himself of his alcoholism, and attends a dinner with friends. The whole time he is unable to really grasp a desire to go ahead with life, and is resolved to never go back to the wife he left behind in the States. Despite its somber theme, the film’s artistic exuberance is uplifting, with Malle doing a terrific job of finding tender beauty in so much sadness. The only drawback is a pace that is at times sluggish; the film feels longer than its length, but its poignancy makes it worthwhile. Look for the inimitable in a terrific cameo appearance.

The Criterion Collection:  #430

Venice Film Festival Award:  Special Jury Prize


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