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Film / A Day in the Country

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A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) is a 1936 short film (40 minutes) directed by Jean Renoir.

M. Dufour, who owns a Paris dairy business, takes his family for a country outing. Said family consists of his wife Mme. Dufour, his grandmother, his daughter Henriette, and his assistant Anatole, who has been designated to marry Henriette and one day take over the dairy business. They stop off at the country inn of one Poulain (Jean Renoir), and have a picnic.

Poulain's rambunctious young workers, Rodolphe and Henri, take an immediate interest in the two attractive women. Henri says he'd prefer getting with the mother as it would be no strings attached, while sex with the daughter would run the risk of both pregnancy and emotional attachment. As it happens, however, Henri does form a rapport with Henriette, one which leads to an unexpected emotional attachement.

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Origininally intended as a feature, but delayed and then halted when Renoir moved on to other projects like The Grand Illusion. Finally released as a 40-minute film in 1946.


Tropes:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Mme. Dufour only goes off on her boating trip with the young men after her husband, who wants a nap, rebuffs her requests for sex. And Henriette gives in to Henri very quickly.
  • Buxom Is Better: Poulain says he prefers well-rounded women like Mme. Dufour rather than her slender daughter. ("More to hold on to.")
  • City Mouse: The country people make fun of the city slickers. One of them notes that the fish in the river taste like oil now that the factory has opened upstream. Poulain says "Serve it to the Parisians; they'll love it."
  • Distant Finale: A title card tells us that "years passed" and Henriette got married to Anatole before her last bittersweet meeting with Henri.
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  • Extremely Short Timespan: A few hours over an afternoon, plus a Distant Finale coda that lasts only a few minutes.
  • Facecam: A very early use of this trope in a brief shot that stays focused on Henriette's face as she swings in the swing.
  • Longing Look: Henriette's last look at Henri before she goes away with her husband.
  • P.O.V. Cam: From the Dufour's carriage as it pulls up to the inn.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Most of the film plays like a comic romp in the countryside as a mother and daughter both (probably? See What Happened to the Mouse? below) have sex with two randy farmhands. Then the last five minutes of the movie jump forward an undetermined number of years, to find Henriette trapped in a seemingly unhappy marriage to Anatole, weeping as she tells Henri she thinks about their passionate fling every night.
  • Swing Low, Sweet Harriet: A scene in which Rodolphe and Henri gawk at Mme. Dufour and Henriette as they swing in the swing. Rodolphe wishes Henriette would sit in the swing and kick her legs out, rather than stand in it, so he could get a better view.
    Rodolphe: Wonderful invention, the swing.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did Rodolphe score with the mom? Given her giggling enthusiasm and how obviously horny she was, probably, but who knows? The last we see of Mme. Dufour is her squealing with glee as Rodolphe chases her around a meadow.
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