The Fire Within

“Life moves too slowly in me,” muses the protagonist of this early Malle work, but the same certainly cannot be said of this film, its fatalistic theme offset by the fire in Malle's direction. Released from a Versailles sanitarium, past-his-prime playboy and alcoholic Alain (Maurice Ronet, Purple Noon) returns to Paris to search for ex-friends and lovers, hoping to find someone to give him a reason to live. Malle tracks his hero along the whispering corridors and tasteful homes of this leisure-class milieu, never letting him escape from the camera's frame, or from the ironies that envelop him therein. Part Proustian musing on lost love, part Fitzgeraldian treatise on the malaise of the moneyed (a copy of The Great Gatsby makes an appearance), The Fire Within paints an acidic portrait of Parisian society. For Time Out, it is “a small gem, polished to perfection by an unassuming professional.”

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