Wednesday 3 October 2018

Rider on the Rain - 1970 film review

Rider on the Rain is a French crime film which is certainly anything but run of the mill. It was released in 1970 and stars the beautiful Marlene Joubert and also Charles Bronson (in the days before he became famous through the Death Wish franchise). The role of Joubert's mother is played by Jill Ireland, who was Bronson's wife, and far too young for the part.

Now I have to admit that my instinct is to avoid Bronson films, but I was drawn to this one by the fact that it was written by Sebastien Japrisot, one of the finest French crime writers, and the man responsible for books such as Trap for Cinderella and One Deadly Summer. Highly talented, he even wrote the lyric for the film's title song - the music was by Francis Lai, a leading film composer best known for A Man and a Woman and Love Story. Rene Clement directs.

Joubert plays Mel (or "Melancholie"), a young woman who is pushed around by her mother and her husband. One day, a stranger turns up in town. He spots Mel, follows her, and rapes her. She manages to shoot him, and having done so, she throws his body into the sea. Then a mysterious smiling American called Dobbs (Bronson) arrives on the scene, and makes it clear that he knows what she's done.

It isn't clear what Dobbs' game is, and the film sags at this point after a compelling start. I found Dobbs' treatment of Mel troubling, although one or two plot twists put a different complexion on things. This film was a big hit in Europe, though it didn't do well in the UK, and it may be fair to say that time hasn't treated it well. Yet it does have some appealing ingredients, including explicit nods to Alice in Wonderland and Alfred Hitchcock. A curate's egg of a film, really, but the combination of Japrisot and Joubert meant that I felt it was worth watching. 


1 comment:

Mark Bailey said...

The Jobert family continues acting in classic-influenced crime today as her niece (Jos├ęphine Jobert) is in Death in Paradise as Sergeant Florence Cassel.