Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crainquebille (2010)

This episode from Au siècle de Maupassant: Contes et nouvelles du XIXème siècle is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. Crainquebille is an old man, happily lives with his loyal dog, Bébert. Daily he sells vegetables at his usual spot for 40 years in the local market, which is led by the major, Mangin, his son's future father-in-law. The marriage will take place in 2 months. Also coming is the future election. Crainquebille soon will move with his dog to the country, where he will use his savings to buy a new house, while his son Antoine, now Mangin's delivery boy, is happily married to Solange Mangin and inherits Mangin's butcher shop.

One day, after the market has closed, a maid arrives, asking Crainquebille to sell her some leek, if not her mistress will be angry. Some seller has already turned her down because the market has been closed. Crainquebille takes pity of her and sells leek to her, but this maid forgets to bring money. While waiting for her to come back with the payment, Crainquebille refuses to move his cart and this causes another seller angry (the one who has turned down the maid) because her cart cannot pass. Constable Matra comes (he is young and new) in the middle of the argument and he seems to hear that Crainquebille says "Down with the Pigs!" to him. The constable takes this as an insult and arrests Crainquebille.

Matra's superior reads the report and asks why Matra puts "I seemed to hear..." in the report and asks him if he really heard Crainquebille spoke the words or not. Matra cannot be sure. The superior tells him to change his report and write "clearly heard". The result: Crainquebille goes to jail for 1 month. His cart, which was left in the market when he was arrested, has been stolen - and Bébert who guarded the cart that night has been killed. None visits him at jail except Antoine.

After serving his sentence, Crainquebille returns to the market to work as usual. His usual spot has been given to someone else and his is now in a dirty corner. Customers hardly buys from him and later his cart is full of rotten vegetables. He goes back to his bad drinking habit. One night, his savings is stolen while he lays drunk.

With the coming election, Mangin cannot take any risk and forces Solange to put off the wedding. No way his daughter will marry an ex-convict's son. Antoine takes this badly and commits suicide. Crainquebille is now alone, leaves his home, and lives like a beggar.

In the end of the movie, one year later, he meets again the maid who has caused all his misfortunes. He says to her that she still owes him 40 cents for the leek, but she doesn't recognize him at all. Her boyfriend gives him some money, though, in the name of charity. Hungry, Crainquebille remembers that in jail he is warm and well fed. When he meets a police, he says to him, "Down with the Pigs!", but the police won't arrest him and just walks away.

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