Les Enfants Terribles (Criterion Collection) (R) product details page

Les Enfants Terribles (Criterion Collection) (R)

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Les Enfants Terribles shouldn't work. Director Jean-Pierre Melville's world view -- concentrating on men who eat nails for breakfast and live in a violent world, albeit one that is observed from a cool distance -- should be at odds with Jean Cocteau's mythical, fairy tale-like perverse playfulness. While there are moments when the tension between these two camps does rear its head, most of the time the end result is a surprising amalgam which draws strength from both sources. Melville and Cocteau produce a truly claustrophobic atmosphere, making the audience feel as much a prisoner as the characters, and the surrealism of several sequences is both beautiful and unnerving. Melville has also created a stunning design for the film, especially in its mixture of time periods and architectural styles, and he is enormously aided by Henri Decaë's fascinating cinematography and Monique Bonnot's exceptional editing (both of which are crucial to the film's climactic moments). While Edouard Dermit is somewhat stiff, he has the appropriate look and feel for the role; he does get overshadowed, however, by the powerful yet stealthy performance of Nicole Stephane, who makes the demonic seem bewitching. Disturbing, compelling, and fascinating, Enfants is a richly rewarding experience for audiences wanting something a little beyond the norm. Craig Butler, All Movie Guide