Les Bas-fonds (The Lower Depths) (Underground) (Underworld)
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Les Bas-fonds (The Lower Depths) (Underground) (Underworld)
Voted 1936's best picture by a circle of prestigious French critics, Jean Renoir's The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds) is based on the "gutter" play by Russian author Maxim Gorky. Louis Jouvet plays The Baron, forced by circumstance to give up his life of luxury and to set up residence in the slums of Paris. As Jouvet observes the passing parade, he bears witness to the frustrated romance between Jean Gabin and Junie Astor, the thwarted dreams of actor Robert Le Vigan, and the oppressive cruelties of landlord Vladimir Sokoloff. The Lower Depths surprised Renoir's admirers,… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Gabin and Jouvet are their usual glorious selves, though the tendency towards pessimism makes this one of Renoir's less rewarding films."
‑ , Time Out
"Gabin did not attain the international status of American counterparts or later countryman Belmondo, though his Pepel here is a thing of beauty."
‑ Donald J. Levit, ReelTalk Movie Reviews
"The Lower Depths both gains and loses by its proximity to Renoir's later masterpieces: It's not one of them them, but the same guy made it."
‑ Jake Euker, Filmcritic.com
"It carries some interest in its curious blend of tones and styles -- it oscillates between vaudeville turns and stark tragedy."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The text is Gorky's, the names and the whiskers are Russian, yet the world here is wholly French, or, rather, wholly Jean Renoir's"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"The relationship between Gabin's Pepel and Jouvet's Baron is a brilliant one -- Renoir pointing to their internal similarities by stressing their external differences."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Renoir sought out balance and humanistic sympathy, reshaping the narrative so the thief (Jean Gabin) and the Baron (Louis Jouvet) bond over their mutual rebellion against the social system."
‑ Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
"The result is powerful, if frequently uncomfortable, viewing."
‑ , Film4