La Chienne (1931)

Dir. Jean Renoir

Bleak, pessimistic and highly controversial (it wasn’t shown in the US until 1975), Renoir’s precursor of Italian neo-realism follows Maurice, a meek bank clerk and aspiring painter, who is trapped in a marriage with an abusive woman who mistreats him. After a work celebration, Maurice sees a young woman, Lulu, on the street being beaten by a man. He protects her and takes her home. Maurice soon falls in love with her, unaware that she’s a prostitute and that the man who was beating her is her pimp, Dede. Janie Pelletier gives a notable performance as Lulu, but didn’t get the chance to enjoy the acclaim, as just weeks after the film was completed she was killed in a car crash. Watch

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