USA Today - 02/28/1997
"...A grown-up tone and well-utilized rural locales..."
Uncut - 08/01/2000
"[T]here is much to admire here, not least its quietly devastating honesty and compassion."
For his first feature, French director Claude Chabrol revisited his hometown of Sardent to film the story of a cosmopolitan city student, François (Jean-Claude Brialy), who returns home only to discover that his childhood friend Serge (Gérard Blain) has fallen into a state of destitution. Shot in a style heavily in debt to then-emerging Italian neorealism with its use of nonprofessional actors and documentary-like footage of daily village life, LE BEAU SERGE is also replete with melodrama and morality. Coming home to recover from an illness, François is immediately confronted with the spectacle of his old friend, a onetime successful architect, drunk and disorderly, severely depressed after the death of his deformed child. Intent on rescuing Serge, François's attempts have the opposite effect, starting a chain reaction of unfortunate events culminating in tragedy. The stark realism of Henri Dacae's sublime black-and-white cinematography mixed with Chabrol's use of heavy Catholic symbolism produce an emotional parable of great depth as the struggle between the two friends turns into a battle for redemption.