The greatest films of Bertrand Tavernier

In tribute to the director who has just passed away at 79 years old, Le Figaro looks back on his works, The Watchmaker of Saint-Paul until The Princess of Montpensier passing of course through Let the party begin, his masterpiece.

At least he never set foot on the wall. From his beginnings, Bertrand Tavernier asserted himself as a solid craftsman, turning his back on the then fashionable affèteries. For his first film, he adapts Simenon and enlists the services of Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, screenwriters who were the pet peeves of the new wave.

The watchmaker of Saint-Paul (1974) takes place in Lyon, his hometown. We see it, we feel it, with its squares, its quays, its markets. We should count the number of sequences at the table, where the guests comment on the election results in a cork, discuss the death penalty and Guy Lux in front of a sapper’s apron or joke about Michel Droit while pouring himself a glass of Beaujolais. There is Noiret, who will be the director’s faithful accomplice. The life of this quiet trader is turned upside down when his son kills the security guard of a factory where his girlfriend worked. Attentive to his time – prostitutes demonstrated in the streets – Tavernier describes the relationship between a father and his boy, their difficulty in communicating, their sudden solidarity which perhaps resembles silent love.

Royal Philippe Noiret as regent

The director then abandons contemporary drama to immerse himself in the Regency with Let the party begin (1975) which is arguably his best movie. His favorite actor bursts out there in a polished, elegant Philippe d’Orléans. The debauchery and the fine dinners smelled of rottenness and everyone was stopping their noses. The revolt was brewing and the Marquis de Pontcallec (Jean-Pierre Marielle, irreproachable) dreamed of a Breton republic while Abbé Dubois (Jean Rochefort, sinuous like a devil) treated his ulcer with aphorisms: “ I am stingy. It’s the only vice that costs me nothing Tavernier tried to remind several times that the Regent’s doctor was called Chirac.

The judge and the murderer (1976) earned Galabru his stripes as a serious, almost tragic actor. In the mountains of Ardèche in 1893, this anarchist murderer wrote “ Hail Mary mother of heaven »In the snow, raped shepherds and shepherdesses before slaughtering them, played cat and mouse with his judge (Noiret, obviously, mustache and bowler hat). Beautiful old-fashioned duel which holds the comparison with that of “ Jail », But that Tavernier could not help ending with a strike with red flags, suddenly taking himself for the Bertolucci of 1900.

Change of scenery with Wipe (nineteen eighty one). French West Africa 1938. Noiret is a policeman who stops no one, a total filth, spineless, twisted. Eddy Mitchell does the rest, Isabelle Huppert the mistress, all a little forced, like Mocky light. Life and nothing else (1989) and The Princess of Montpensier (2010). The best Tavernier, now for eternity.

As a tribute, Le Figaro returns, below, in pictures on the greatest films of Bertrand Tavernier, The Watchmaker of Saint-Paul at The Princess of Montpensier passing of course by Let the party begin…

The Watchmaker of Saint-Paul by Bertrand Tavernier, in 1974, inspired by Georges Simenon’s novel L’Horloger d’Everton

Let the party begin… by Bertrand Tavernier, released in 1975, with Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle …

The Judge and the Assassin by Bertrand Tavernier, in 1976

Wipe by Bertrand Tavernier, in 1981

Life and nothing else by Bertrand Tavernier, in 1989. Nominated eleven times for the César, he received that of the best actor and the best music in 1990.

The Princess of Montpensier by Bertrand Tavernier, released in 2010


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