Repertory Picks

Renoir’s Roundelay in Massachusetts

Eighty years after its initial release, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game is routinely named among the two or three greatest films ever made, and next Monday movie lovers in Brookline, Massachusetts, will get a chance to relish its glories on the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s big screen, accompanied by a talk with professor Audrey J. Golden. Imbued with a mix of tenderness, comic absurdity, and sharp social criticism, this intricately constructed satire gathers an unforgettable cast of characters at a fancy château, where their increasingly complicated liaisons reveal some ugly truths about French high society. It stands as a shining model of humanism in cinema, but its road to the canon was a rocky one: the film polarized audiences in 1939, and its original negative was destroyed in a bombing during World War II; it wasn’t until 1959 that the movie was finally reconstructed. Acknowledging its extreme reception over the decades, Renoir once pronounced Rules “a magnificent flop, perfect, complete.”

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