Quick recap: An older man recounts his life as a cheat and all the ups and downs that went with it.
Fun (?) fact: The only lines of dialogue between characters occur in the ‘present’ day. The rest of the film is voiceover narration by The Cheat.
My thoughts: So, here’s what Netflix told me this movie was going to be about:
“After learning at a young age that unbridled dishonesty leads to great success, a charismatic rogue (Sacha Guitry) spends the rest of his life pursuing lucrative criminal endeavors — giving rise to comical adventures and romances with gorgeous women. Written, directed and narrated by French auteur Guitry, this charming vintage soufflé also stars Marguerite Moreno, Jacqueline Delubac and Roger Duchesne.”
Vintage soufflé? Wtff? Anyway, this seemed like the worst movie ever if I was just going by the description. Let me tell you, there were many audible groans as I popped the DVD in and hoped for the best.
If nothing else, The Story of a Cheat has the most interesting opening credits that I have ever seen. Instead of a scrolling list of who’s who, the narrator introduces people on the set of the movie and has them wave at the audience. It sounds silly, but it totally comes off as clever because if there is one thing I hate more than opening credits, it’s opening credits in a foreign film.
The story starts with The Cheat explaining about his first act of dishonesty: stealing money from his family’s store to buy some marbles. His father finds out and bars the boy from eating mushrooms with the rest of the family at dinner. The boy is heartbroken until he learns that the mushrooms were poisonous and subsequently kill everyone off, except for him. What a life lesson! So naturally this starts him on the path of criminal activity. I loved how macabre the beginning was, and it reminded me of the book We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which you should go read RIGHT NOW if you haven’t yet. GO! What are you waiting for?
This movie was hilarious, and I say that in the most non-sarcastic way that I can. It was witty and charming and I think is the most underrated movie on this list so far. One of my favorite aspects was how closely it resembled a live action play. It sort of reminded me of Wes Anderson’s films and his flair for the theatrical. I doubt this is where he got his inspiration, but I can definitely see a connection. In many ways, The Story of a Cheat was way ahead of its time and maybe that’s why it isn’t as well known as it should be.
Final review: 5/5. I would definitely watch again!
Up next: Back to the Future