TWO OF US, THE (LE VIEIL HOMMER ET L’ENFANT) (THE OLD MAN AND THE BOY)
(director/writer: Claude Berri; screenwriters: Grard Brach/Michel Rivelin; cinematographer: Jean Penzer; editors: Sophie Coussein/Denise Charvein; music: Georges Delerue; cast: Michel Simon (Pepe), Alain Cohen (Claude), Charles Denner (Claude’s father), Luce Fabiole (Granny), Roger Carel (Victor), Paul Prboist (Maxime), Jacqueline Rouillard (Teacher), Sylvine Delannoy (Suzanne), Zorica Lozic (Claude’s mother), Marco Perrin (the priest), Elisabeth Rey (Dinou), Didier Perret (Dinou’s brother), Sylvine Delannoy(Suzanne); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Paul Cadac/Andr Hunebelle; Rialto Pictures; 1967-France-in French with English subtitles)
“Greatly enhanced by the virtuoso performance of the 72-year-old Michel Simon.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The bittersweet sentimental directorial debut of Claude Berri (“Sex Shop”/”Jean de Florette”/”Lucie Aubrac”)is the director-writer’sfictionalized autobography, that’s co-written with Grard Brach and Michel Rivelin.
In 1943, during theWorld War II Occupation of France, a Jewish Parisian couple (Charles Denner & Zorica Lozic) make the decision to send their mischievous eight-year-old son Claude (Alain Cohen), who constantly gets into trouble and attracts unwanted attention, to live in safety in the country with the elderly parents (Michel Simon & Luce Fabiole) of one of their Catholic friends. The catch is that Pepe is a fervent anti-Semite and lover of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. To keep the kid’s identity from the elderly farm couple, the kid is given a Christian name, taught the Lord’s prayer and told to not let the couple see him in the nude. Soon the unlikely pair hit it off and form a close relationship, as the lonely old man has someone else to talk to besides his beloved dog and the kid feels safe being around the comical curmudgeon. The kid gets a kick out of the kind-hearted but ignorant old man’s bigoted rants and eggs him on to say very stupid things about Jews, while the old timer dotes on the kid. In school, the country kids pick on the kid only because he’s a city boy. When France is liberated, his parents come for him after avoiding the concentration camps and he returns to Paris with them.
The simple and warm-hearted film of a complex situation, shot in black and white, is viewed through the child’s eyes. It tends to get too sentimental, but the dangers present are real and thereby give the film a ring of truth as it captures the tense atmosphere prevailing. The watchable crowd-pleasing pic is greatly enhanced by the virtuoso performance of the 72-year-old Michel Simon, whose dad was a Swiss sausage maker.
REVIEWED ON 11/9/2011 GRADE: B