Les routes du sud (1978)

ROADS TO THE SOUTH (Les Routes Du Sud)

(director/writer: Joseph Losey; screenwriters: Patricia Losey/Jorge Semprun; cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editor: Reginald Beck; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Yves Montand (Larrea), Miou-Miou (Julia), Laurent Malet (Laurent), France Lambiotte (Eve), Jose Luis Gomez (Miguel), Jean Bouise (Metayer), Maurice Benichou (Garcia); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Yves Rousset-Rouard; Parafrance; 1978-France, in French with English subtitles)


“An uninspiring politically motivated movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Politically motivated American director Joseph Losey, who was blacklisted by the HUAC after not testifying and went into self-imposed exile in 1951 in England, shoots an uninspiring politically motivated movie that despite touching his heart he never is able to give it life. After his bitter experience with the American political scene, Losey remained pessimistic about the world and his films became preoccupied with human frailty and spiritual corruption. He reached his peak with his 1963 The Servant, a film he adapted from a Harold Pinter work. In 1976 he moved his base of operation to France. The most interesting film from that period was his 1977 Mr. Klein. Unfortunately, Roads to the South, the second feature Losey made in France, remains a minor unheralded film that is often not even listed among his credits because it was made for French television.

“Roads” was created by his co-screenwriter Jorge Semprun as a sequel to Alain Resnais’ La Guerre est Finie. The film details the further disillusions of Larrea, an aging old-line leftist played by Yves Montand. It begins in Cherbourg, 1975. Yves is a wealthy film screenwriter whose memories of fighting against the rise of the Spanish dictator, Franco, during his rise to power from 1936-39, still haunts him and his Spanish wife. He became an exile choosing to live in France. Modernity has rewarded him with material comfort, but he still sulks over the political climates of France and Spain. It also disturbs him greatly that he can’t relate to his son and of the cynicism the young have for people of his age group. When his wife dies in a car crash in Barcelona, he returns to Spain to see the dictator, Franco, die of old age in his bed. He lives with his memories of supporting Stalin for twenty years and for twenty years afterwards detesting himself for supporting Stalin. Larrea is still a supporter of the old cause, believing he is still right. But he remains unhappy that he was shut out of the movement in the 1970s, as he was thought of by the movement as a relic. Miou-Miou as Julia is the young girl who his son has fixed him up with because he thinks that’s what he now needs. Regaining new vigor with his return home, Larrea reverts to his old antifascist ways with shockingly brutal results.