Whilst he is perhaps best known for his social dramas revolving around the deficiencies
of the French legal system, director André Cayatte also made a number of more conventional
melodramas, of which Le Miroir à deux faces
is easily one of his best. Cayatte's understated direction allows his
actors to perform at their best and the result is a compelling,
highly poignant psychological drama in which the crumbling relationship of an ill-matched
couple is portrayed with great compassion, and also a touch of sadistic relish. Far
from being a cosy, comfortable film, Le Miroir à
is about as pessimistic as Cayatte can get, although he tells his story
with more humanity and subtlety than he is usually credited with.
The film gave the iconic performer Bourvil one of his few, and arguably best, dramatic roles.
Better known as a comic actor, his performance in this film demonstrates that he is equally capable
of playing tough, unsympathetic parts, and many spectators may be surprised by this unfamiliar
persona. Michèle Morgan is even less recognisable in the first half of the
film, although this is the result of some very effective make-up work which completely
changes her appearance. The actress turns in another captivating performance, conveying
the sense of a bird who, having spent most of its life trapped in a small cage, finally
discovers freedom. Bourvil and Morgan work together very well, the former's down-to-Earth
simplicity contrasting with the latter's otherworldly nobility. They would subsequently
appear together in the 1960 film Fortunat
, directed by Alex Joffé.
The other notable figure in the film is Gérard Oury, perfecty cast
in one of his most memlorable screen roles - the slightly sinister Dr Bosc, who is a little too
reminiscent of Pierre Brasseur in Les Yeux sans visage (1960)
. Oury also co-wrote the screenplay, which encouraged
him to embark on a career as a film director. The success of his films in the 1960s
made him the most successful and famous mainstream director in France of his day.
The star of Le Miroir à deux
Morgan, would become Oury's real-life partner for the rest of his life - a happy ending
of the kind you would not hope to find in an André Cayatte film.
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