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Film / Faithful Heart

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Faithful Heart (Cœur fidèle in the original French) is a 1923 French silent film directed and co-written by Jean Epstein, who would later direct The Fall of the House of Usher.
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Marie is a young woman exploited by her cruel foster parents, who own a dockside bar in Marseille. She is in love with Jean, a dockworker, but her parents want her to marry the brutish Petit Paul. When Jean and Paul get into a fight over Marie, a gendarme tries to interfere and gets stabbed. Paul runs away and thus gets off scot-free while Jean is arrested and spends a year in prison. By the time Jean gets out, Marie is in an abusive marriage with Petit Paul, who wastes all their money on alcohol while Marie struggles to care for their sick baby. Can Jean help her out now? And does any hope remain for their relationship?


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This film has the examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Petit Paul starts off as one, until Marie is forced to marry him, at which point he becomes an abhorrent spouse.
  • The Alcoholic: As a husband, Petit Paul is a typical abusive alcoholic.
  • Arranged Marriage: Marie's abusive foster parents force her to marry Petit Paul. Why are they so keen on their adoptive daughter marrying an unemployed drunken lout? For the Evulz, apparently. If they just wanted to get rid of her, they could have let her marry Jean.
  • Amusement Park: Paul takes Marie to one. She doesn't enjoy it much. At the end, Jean and Marie go together, and, in a Call-Back, look sullen, but now it's a result of all that they've been through.
  • Domestic Abuse: Not actually shown much, but it's made clear that it's going on from the way that Marie shrinks away from Paul when he's yelling at her, etc.
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  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Jean and Marie do end up together, but only after Petit Paul has put them through hell.
  • Gossipy Hens: They spread the word that Jean has been seen around Paul and Marie's apartment.
  • Hate Sink: Petit Paul possesses just about every negative character trait that you could possibly imagine. He's a drunk, a thug, a domestic abuser, and ultimately a would-be murderer. And he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Petit Paul plans to kill both Jean and Marie if he sees them together.
  • Ill Boy: Marie's baby is sick. Despite being the father, Petit Paul doesn't seem to care much.
  • Love Triangle: Jean and Marie love each other. Paul wants Marie for himself and has her parents' blessing for some reason.
  • No Name Given:
    • Marie's next-door neighbor is a helpful woman who walks with the aid of a crutch. Despite being a significant supporting character, she's only ever identified as "l’infirme" ("the cripple").
    • The most prominent of the gossipers is only identified as "la femme du port" ("the woman of the port").
    • Marie's baby is never referred to by name. We only know the baby is male because the intertitles use words in the masculine form when referring to him.
  • Single Tear: While she's looking down at the baby, we get a POV shot from the baby's perspective in which we can see that Marie has a tear in her eye.
  • Stood Up: Marie doesn't meet Jean at their usual place because she was taken away by Petit Paul.
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