This was the first time I’d seen The Rules of the Game and wasn’t sure what to expect… I tended to confuse it with The Most Dangerous Game, which is kinda sorta different.
Though I know that this film is part social satire, I was still struck by the tremendously – shall we say progressive? – treatment of relationships within the film. Married couples are openly in love with other people and everyone is just so very civilized and matter of fact about it all. This would NEVER have happened in American cinema at the time – hell, a divorced and single ready to mingle Norma Shearer was the cause of scandal in the 1930 film The Divorcee before the Hayes Code clamped down on Hollywood. This was like Caligula compared to that. Kind of apples and oranges, but you get my point. Basically, while I thought it was kind of eww it was still super refreshing to see.
Another major thing that stood out to me was Renoir’s tremendous directing. The choreography of so many scenes was stunning, particularly when there were a lot of people involved. I loved the short scenes in the hallways because it was like a well-choreographed dance, with the action unfolding perfectly to make your eyes follow the activity down the hall. It was the same with the fight scenes and when Schumacher was chasing Marceau around the house.
There were a couple of things that gave me a little pause – this may be on me, and it may be because it was in French but the number of characters had me a little confused at some point and since so many people were professing love for each other I wasn’t quite sure who was whom at some points, but that’s a minor quibble. Another minor thing were the gross hunting scenes (I’m not a big animal lover but I’m also not a fan of watching birds and rabbits get shot) though it did kind of come full circle at the end. And finally, I was kind of baffled by the racial slurs aimed at Jewish people – I couldn’t even explain it away as satire. That was kind of a shame.
But overall I thought this was a great film and Renoir was great both as director and actor. This was really long overdue for me to see and I’m glad I finally sat down to watch it.