Sunday, December 13, 2009

Le toubib (1979)

It's hard to believe that this movie was handled by Pierre Granier-Deferre, who also directed the wonderful La veuve Coudrec and Le train. Alain Delon said that he bought Harmonie Ou Les Horreurs De La Guerre by Jean Freustié because he liked the novel, so I believe that they at least had started well. It must be the transfer to the screen which went wrong. Btw, Bernard Giraudeau who plays François, got the César nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

The story is set in June 1983. Famous surgeon Jean-Marie Desprée (Alain Delon) was left by his wife 1 month ago and now he works in a modern movable hospital, where the 3rd world war is taking place. He is a lonely man who opens his heart only to his sister Marcia and his dog Marius. A new nurse, Harmonie, arrives to join the team and Desprée is struck by her idealism, which gives him back something he thought has lost: hope. He tries to humiliate her at first and makes her leave, but these efforts only bring him to learn to love her. The ending, however, is a sad one.

I read that this is an anti-war movie, made to show the horror of war. If that is the intention, then the most successful scene must be the necropolis (=burial site) where Desprée and Harmonie find decayed bodies of the soldiers, most of them half buried. In contrast with this horror, the hospital is situated in a beautiful place, where there are swans on the lake nearby.

What really doesn't work for me here is the love story between Desprée and Harmonie, which I think needs more screen-time. I just don't believe that this young woman can make him change his mind. Like in the case with La race des seigneurs (also by Pierre Granier-Deferre), it seems a few scenes are missing.

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