Take 3: Les Enfants Terribles Review (Clean Movie Month — #4)

Several months ago, I recorded the French film, Les Enfants Terribles, on my DVR. Since I don’t watch many foreign films, I wanted to see this film as a way to expand my cinematic horizons. When I found out that this particular movie was released during the Breen Code era, in 1950, I was curious to see if any traces of the Breen Code could be found in the film. So, that is why I chose Les Enfants Terribles for one of my Clean Movie Month reviews! If you read my review of Madeleine, you would know that Les Enfants Terribles is not the first foreign film I reviewed for this blogathon. In fact, I was quite surprised that Madeleine was approved by the Breen Code. An interesting coincidence is both Madeleine and Les Enfants Terribles were released in the same year. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this French film from 1950 compares to the British film, also from 1950!

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I’ve seen other posters for this movie, but I like this one the best! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting in Les Enfants Terribles was one of the finer points of the movie! The two main characters, Paul and Elisabeth, were very interesting to watch because of the lead stars’ acting performances! Nicole Stephane brought the character of Elisabeth to life with a sense of fierceness and strength. These two elements helped her carry the film. She was also able to stand on her own merits when it came to acting among the other actors and actresses! Edouard Dermit portrayed Elisabeth’s brother, Paul. The well-roundedness of his acting talents was very clear to see in this film. Paul goes through a lot in Les Enfants Terribles. In every scene, Edouard brought his A game and even made his character seem like he was a real person. Over the course of this story, Edouard not only incorporates a sense of realism to his character, but also pulls off an acting performance that was mesmerizing to watch!

 

The music: At certain points in the film, orchestral music could be heard. This type of music would normally come into the movie anytime a new location was introduced. I thought this was an interesting choice because it fit the film’s overall tone. The orchestral music was grand yet sinister, highlighting Paul and Elisabeth’s journey through wealth and growing up. In one scene, Elisabeth’s husband, Michael, sings a song while playing the piano. Not only did the piano music sound good, but the song was also sung well. The music’s role in Les Enfants Terribles brought a special significance to the project!

 

The dynamics of the characters: Les Enfants Terribles puts more focus on the characters than the story itself. Despite this, it was fascinating to see how the characters interacted with one another. Throughout the film, lives are transformed and relationships are built among Paul, Elisabeth, and the people around them. What makes this part of the movie work is the screen-writing as well as the acting. These two elements provide the perfect combination for making the characters as interesting as they were.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of explanation for Paul and Elisabeth’s “game”: During the movie, Paul and Elisabeth play a game that only the two of them know about. However, no explanation to what this game is or how it’s played was ever given in the story. While watching the film, I tried to figure out more about the game. But, without an explanation, it was very difficult to understand the importance of it. I also noticed that this game was featured in the story when it was convenient for the plot. This is because the game itself was mentioned on very few occasions.

 

A misleading premise: According to Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, Les Enfants Terribles is about “a brother and sister close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their lair”. As I’ve already mentioned, Paul and Elisabeth’s “game” wasn’t well explained or featured in the movie for very long. The sibling relationship of Paul and Elisabeth seemed very toxic, from calling each other names to treating each other horribly. If anything, this movie was about two things: siblings who grow apart and a young woman who slowly becomes obsessed with power and control. Since the movie was different than its synopsis, I found TCM’s description to be misleading.

 

An unclear time-line: Les Enfants Terribles takes place over the course of several years. But, to me, this movie felt like all the events happened within a year. This was because there were no clear explanations about when certain situations were taking place. Time-cards and any mentions of the year were not found in this movie. Even the narrator didn’t talk about how much time had passed. The film’s time-line became very confusing, leaving me wondering how many years were included in the story. Because of the unclear time-line, the characters appeared as if they were frozen in time.

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Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I ended up liking Les Enfants Terribles more than I thought I would! It was an interesting film that had a few surprises in store. The movie itself is a character study/character driven story, showing how they evolve as time goes on. The acting was really good and the characters were well developed, helping this narrative become engaging. As I was watching Les Enfants Terribles, I could see some of the Breen Code’s influence. One example was anytime the doctor came to examine Paul. Either the examination itself was not shown on-screen or the doctor would only be shown listening to Paul’s heartbeat. However, when it came to this film, the Breen Code could have been enforced more. There were several times where characters were swearing, either at each other or just for the sake of it. This shocked me because not only was Les Enfants Terribles released in 1950, but it was also released during the Breen Code era. I was surprised that this movie got away with having this much language in the early ‘50s. Was this particular film the beginning of the end for the Breen Code? That’s definitely a question for another day.

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

Have you ever watched a French film? Which foreign film have you always wanted to see? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor Review

As the summer comes to a close, so does Garage Sale Mystery Month. Now that we’ve arrived at the final film in this year’s collection of Garage Sale Mystery films, I can share my honest opinion about not only Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor, but on 2018’s Garage Sale Mystery Month as a whole. I’ve said in my Garage Sale Mysteries: Picture a Murder review that this series has been very creative when it comes to their mystery stories. Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor has continued to keep the creative streak alive for this series, with the inclusion of an auction house and a decades old piano. What did I think of this year’s finale of Garage Sale Mystery Month? Read my review of Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor in order to find out!

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Garage Sale Mystery: Murder in D Minor poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Garage+Sale+Mysteries+Murder+in+D+Minor.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The cast of Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor was, once again, talented! Even though his on-screen presence is, usually, limited, I think that Jay Brazeau did a very good job portraying Tramell. As the head doctor at the local morgue, Tramell has always had such a pleasant presence within the Garage Sale Mystery series! The actors portraying secondary characters gave just as good of a performance as the series regulars. Two of these actors that really stood out to me were Nicola Lipman and Chris William Martin. Like I mentioned in my review of Logan Lucky, accents in a movie can be hit or miss. But, for Nicola and Chris, they both pulled off an accent that made their characters seem more believable!

 

The mystery: In most of the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary mystery revolves around a murder. In Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor, there was more than one mystery, including the mystery of who hurt Jennifer’s friend. This was a creative choice that I found very interesting. Another creative choice that was interesting was having Jacques, one of the suspects, being heavily involved in the primary mystery. In most mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the involvement of the suspects within the respective film’s main mystery is limited to, simply, being a suspect. This change to the Garage Sale Mystery series added some intrigue to this film’s overall story.

 

Hannah and Logan’s subplots: While Hannah’s subplots in these four Garage Sale Mystery films have been hit or miss, Logan’s subplots have been less than stellar to non-existent. In Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor, both Hannah and Logan received subplots that I really liked! Logan uses a homework assignment to figure out how to help his basketball team, while Hannah takes a job as a tutor. These subplots added interest in the other stories from the film besides the mysteries themselves. It also showed other members of the Shannon family, besides Jennifer, being problem-solvers and saving the day.

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String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

A slower pace: Like I said in my review of Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders, the movies in the Garage Sale Mystery series usually have a faster pace. However, the pace of Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor was slower than expected. This caused the movie to feel more drawn out.

 

The under-utilization of Detective Lynwood: In almost all of the Garage Sale Mystery films, Detective Lynwood has been one of the key characters in this series. But, in Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor, Detective Lynwood and his problem-solving skills were under-utilized. As I’ve mentioned before, Jacques’ involvement in the mystery itself was an interesting creative choice. However, that creative choice limited Detective Lynwood’s screen-time.

 

The ending: In the Garage Sale Mystery series, the ending is usually when all of the stories wrap up nicely and the main cast of characters discuss their solved conflicts. The ending in Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor wasn’t bad, it just wrapped up a little too quickly. Because this was the last movie in Garage Sale Mystery month, it seemed to not give this collection of movies a strong end.

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Magnifying glass and fingerprint image created by Alvaro_Cabrera at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/loupe-over-a-fingerprint_853908.htm’>Designed by alvaro_cabrera</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As a whole, I thought Garage Sale Mysteries: Murder in D Minor was decent at best. This does disappoint me because I was hoping the last film in Garage Sale Mystery Month would end on a strong note. However, the overall quality of this year’s Garage Sale Mystery Month was about the same as last year’s. The Garage Sale Mystery series is one of my favorites on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The quality of this series has been consistent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hallmark announced a third Garage Sale Mystery Month for 2019. Even though the Garage Sale Mystery series will take a break until next year, there are other mystery films that are on their way. With the next Darrow & Darrow film premiering this October, “The Crossword Mysteries” (starring Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott) will make its debut in 2019! Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has no shortage of mystery stories and it seems like, when it comes to their movies, they have something available for everyone.

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

Have you seen the films within Garage Sale Mystery Month? Would you like to see the Garage Sale Mystery series continue? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen