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Les cousins (The Criteron Collection) [Blu-ray]

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In Les cousins, Claude Chabrol (Les bonnes femmes) crafts a sly moral fable about a provincial boy who comes to live with his sophisticated bohemian cousin in Paris. Through these seeming opposites, Chabrol conjures a piercing, darkly comic character study that questions notions of good and evil, love and jealousy, and success in the modern world. A mirror image of Le beau Serge, Chabrol’s debut, Les cousins recasts that film’s stars, Jean-Claude Brialy and Gérard Blain, in startlingly reversed roles. This dagger-sharp drama won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and was an important precursor to the French New Wave.

Special Features

New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition

Audio commentary featuring film scholar Adrian Martin

A 2011 documentary by filmmaker Pierre-Henri Gibert about the making of Les cousins, featuring director Claude Chabrol, star Stéphane Audran, assistant directors Charles Bitsch and Claude de Givray, and others

New and improved English subtitle translation

Theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty


Product Details

  • Actors: Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Juliette Mayniel, Guy Decomble, Genevieve Cluny
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0056ANHQI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,838 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 1, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Chabrol has long been known as the French Hitchcock and in this, his second, film that influence is clearly evident and yet even here at this early point in his career Chabrol has already absorbed the influence and evolved it into something that is distinctly his own. He's a Hitchcock all right, but one for a decade that no longer has a moral center.

I would not call Le Beau Serge or Les Cousins Chabrol masterpieces but they are very worthy early efforts. The strengths of these two films would be their stylish plots and complex characters, the weakness would be the overly-theatrical staginess of some of the dialogue and scenes.

The plot (I do not reveal any of the twists or turns):

Provincial Charles comes to Paris to live with his playboy cousin Paul and almost immediately writes a letter to his mother who we soon find out was reluctant to allow him to study in Paris and who he desperately fears disappointing. Both Charles and Paul are supposed to be studying for their exams but all Paul does is party with a wide assortment of decadent sophisticates who all seem to be drawn to his natural magnetism that he seems to have inherited from a world traveling father. Paul embraces life in his way, while all Charles seems to do is worry and write letter after letter to his mother. Paul seems to like his country cousin and Charles seems intrigued by Paul's social charm and carefree lifestyle. Paul is comfortable around everyone but Charles just doesn't seem comfortable around anyone or anything except books, or so it seems (but nothing is really as it seems in this film).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen C. Bird on June 1, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had never seen Claude Chabrol's early films until after seeing "Les Biches", "Le Boucher", "La Rupture" and "La Cérémonie" -- Among others. In his second feature "Les Cousins" -- Streetwise and shady Paul leads the naïve and hardworking Charles ("une espèce laborieuse") into his den of iniquity -- Into a world where nice guys finish last. As pretentious as Paul is -- He is definitely the stronger of the two. The central focus of this film is its study of sadomasochistic fraternal intrigue that defines the relationship between Paul and Charles. Additionally -- At age 29 Chabrol exhibits his expertise in examining the "deadly love triangle" [A similar setup to the threesome of Charles, Paul and Florence occurs in Chabrol's "Les Biches" (1968) wherein the consequences are just as harrowing.] Jean-Claude Brialy (Paul) and Gérard Blain (Charles) are both excellent as the leads. Juliette Mayniel (Florence) is also memorable; she reminds me of both Alida Valli and Charlotte Rampling (although Mayniel is not as cunning as Rampling, nor as intense as Valli). Other highlights include the party scene(s) -- At one point Paul strolls through his living room with a candelabra -- He has extinguished the lights and he's speaking German. This moment could be qualified as "Indulgent" -- But it illustrates how incredibly arrogant and narcissistic Paul is. It gives the viewer yet another reason to loathe him.

As a fan of both Wagner as well as the German language, the "Candelbra Scene" works for me regardless of its contextual validity. The excerpts from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" are used to great effect in this film -- Particularly during the Final Sequence (Chapter 20).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KHENSE on February 22, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A young man who was very sheltered while growing up is sent to live with his city cousin while they both attend law school. The young man lived in a world of books. His upbringing drew solid lines between right and wrong. The city cousin on the other hand had a life full of interaction with people. He knew the law of the street - which is based on seizing opportunities as they flit by. The city cousin passed his exams by buying test questions and answers which were available on the street. A beautiful woman enters the picture. She is initially charmed by the young man with books and poetry, however she is soon swept off her feet by the bolder city cousin. The young man must live in close quarters with the city cousin and the woman who are in an intimate relationship. The young man comes to realize he is not cut out for life. He fails in his studies. Finally he throws away his moral center which was all he had and plots an unwarranted revenge on the city cousin. I think Chabrol intended the young man to mirror the decline of the bourgeoisie class. But beyond that - this is a sad story of a little snowman who melts into nothing.
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Format: Blu-ray
I found this Claude Chabrol film to be a bit boring and stuck. Perhaps in 1959 he was still finding his legs as I really enjoy his later work. Criterion does a decent job on the Blu-ray transfer, but I can't help wonder why "Les Cousins" couldn't have simply been added to "Le Beau Serge" as an early works collection rather than a stand alone film. French New Wave fanatics are the target for this film and as a study to see how the director developed his skills for later classic cinema. I'm a bit surprised that I'm the first to review this Criterion edition as it's nearly four years since it's release, surely that speaks for itself. Watch before you buy this one!!!
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Les cousins (The Criteron Collection) [Blu-ray]
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