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Nora Gregor, Jean Renoir, Marcel Dalio, Roland Toutain, Paulette Dubost ... see more see more... , Gaston Modot , Nicolas Amato , Julien Carette , Henri Cartier-Bresson , Tony Corteggiani , Eddy Debray , Lise Elina , Roger Forster , Richard Francoeur , Camille François , Claire Gerard , Jenny Hélia , Leon Larive , Pierre Magnier , Anne Mayen , Pierre Nay , Mila Parely , Odette Talazac , André Zwoboda , Antoine Corteggiani

Now often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Jean Renoir's La Règle du jeu/Rules of the Game was not warmly received on its original release in 1939: audiences at its opening engagements in... read more read more... Paris were openly hostile, responding to the film with shouts of derision, and distributors cut the movie from 113 minutes to a mere 80. It was banned as morally perilous during the German occupation and the original negative was destroyed during WWII. It wasn't until 1956 that Renoir was able to restore the film to its original length. In retrospect, this reaction seems both puzzling and understandable; at its heart, Rules of the Game is a very moral film about frequently amoral people. A comedy of manners whose wit only occasionally betrays its more serious intentions, it contrasts the romantic entanglements of rich and poor during a weekend at a country estate. André Jurieu (Roland Toutain), a French aviation hero, has fallen in love with Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Gregor), who is married to wealthy aristocrat Marquis Robert de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio). Robert, however, has a mistress of his own, whom he invites to a weekend hunting party at his country home, along with André and his friend Octave (played by Jean Renoir himself). Meanwhile, the hired help have their own game of musical beds going on: a poacher is hired to work as a servant at the estate and immediately makes plans to seduce the gamekeeper's wife, while the gamekeeper recognizes him only as the man who's been trying to steal his rabbits. Among the upper classes, infidelity is not merely accepted but expected; codes are breached not by being unfaithful, but by lacking the courtesy to lie about it in public. The weekend ends in a tragedy that suggests that this way of life may soon be coming to an end. Renoir's witty, acidic screenplay makes none of the characters heroes or villains, and his graceful handling of his cast is well served by his visual style. He tells his story with long, uninterrupted takes using deep focus (cinematographer Jean Bachelet proves a worthy collaborator here), following the action with a subtle rhythm that never calls attention to itself. The sharply-cut hunting sequence makes clear that Renoir avoided more complex editing schemes by choice, believing that long takes created a more lifelike rhythm and reduced the manipulations of over-editing. Rules of the Game uses WWI as an allegory for WWII, and its representation of a vanishing way of life soon became all too true for Renoir himself, who, within a year of the film's release, was forced to leave Europe for the United States.. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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90% liked it

9,500 ratings

Critics

98% liked it

44 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 50 min.

Directed by: Jean Renoir

Release Date: April 8, 1950

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DVD Release Date: January 20, 2004

Stats: 764 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (764)


  • October 20, 2012
    Concealing a lot of complexity in its apparently simple plot, this fabulous tragicomedy (which was almost lost in History) is a witty and smart commentary on the rules of the bourgeoisie and social relations. A classic of the French Cinema to be seen and re-seen many times.
  • September 30, 2009
    A classic from Renoir. The interplay between the wonderful bourgeois upper class characters just before the second world war has never been matched. It's been copied countless times but has never been bettered in my opinion!
  • July 16, 2009
    "The awful thing about life is this, Everyone has their reasons"
  • June 19, 2009
    Fantastic film. I hate the rich and this is a great fuck you to them. I love the style that the film was shot in as well, with wides as if watching a play unfold. There is also the rabbit hunt which is done extremely well. Well crafted film on a lot of levels. I was also impresse... read mored with the dialogue which was funny and sharp, especially considering the time it was made.
  • November 18, 2008
    widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, this one falls a bit flat for me. i understand the commentary renoir was attempting, but the cinematography and acting were bland and the editing was distracting. it deserves a decent score for the fact that high society ... read moretypes might find the satire engaging and because the film is so well respected, and it certainly wasnt a bad film by any means, but this is one of the "greats" that fails to move me. the decade has certainly produced better films.
  • fb721890245
    May 2, 2013
    fb721890245
    I hope I managed to see the restored director's cut but even if it was not, I still appreciated the camera work in this film. The humour only serves to punctuate the tragedy.
  • fb208103125
    November 30, 2013
    fb208103125
    Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game was a critical and commercial failure upon it's release in 1939 and it wasn't for another 20 years when it would be restored to the original length and earn the success and appraisal it does now. The film is a series of long shots and a focus ... read moreon catching not just a certain character or place but the entirety of the situation and the players in it. The film is both a drama and a comedy at the same time and bounces between humorous and absurd to downright tragic and unsettling. There is no main protagonist or character, but rather every person has their place and role, one that each performs and captures amazingly well and not at all contrived or rehearsed in it's delivery. The hunting scene near the middle of the movie is truly one of the most memorable and powerful scenes in all of cinema, not to mention one of the hardest to endure in it's brutality as well as it's message. The Rules of the Game is certainly a masterpiece and Renoir an auteur, as this is a look at society unlike most, if not all, others. By this I mean, it is more true and sincere than most. Highly Recommended!
  • July 20, 2012
    The Rules of the Game goes down as an instant classic, much like the effect Citizen Kane or The Godfather had on me. Although the first bit of the movie is quite confusing, once you learn the faces and names of the characters, The Rules of the Game is a masterpiece. The character... read mores are magnificently built and overall, this is one of the most well made films I have ever seen.

    Favorite Scene: The hunting scene
  • October 2, 2007
    sooooooo boringgggggggg
  • November 26, 2006
    Rich French classic for which my appreciation should only grow.

Critic Reviews


David Denby
June 3, 2014
David Denby, New Yorker

The word "Mozartean"... gets thrown around a little too eagerly by critics, but one movie, as almost everyone agrees, deserves this supreme benediction -- Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. Full Review

Mark Chalon Smith
June 3, 2014
Mark Chalon Smith, Los Angeles Times

On the surface, a lace of flirtations, insinuations and rejections compose the basic plotting. But Renoir uses flashes of accelerating drama to amplify his bigger points. Full Review

Variety Staff
July 6, 2010
Variety Staff, Variety

Jean Renoir, who directs, wrote the scenario and dialog, and takes a leading role, has made a common error: he attempts to crowd too many ideas into 80 minutes of film fare, resulting in confusion. Full Review

Desson Thomson
April 26, 2007
Desson Thomson, Washington Post

The mobile camera seems to be a member of the party, as it follows the almost balletically choreographed movements of the cast. The effect for the audience is transcendental. We are watching life at i... Full Review

John Monaghan
February 16, 2007
John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press

A disaster when initially released, the movie's reputation has only grown since. Full Review

Michael Wilmington
December 28, 2006
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

There are about a dozen genuine miracles in the history of cinema, and one of them is Jean Renoir's supreme 1939 tragi-comedy The Rules of the Game. Full Review

Mark Feeney
December 22, 2006
Mark Feeney, Boston Globe

What ultimately defines the film, what makes it unforgettable, is its tragic gravity. Full Review

Owen Gleiberman
November 8, 2006
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

[The film] is a comedy, a tragedy, a portrait of class manners, a love story of touching caprice (who will Nora Grégor's Christine fall for? Whoever woos her at the right moment), and far and away the... Full Review

Dave Kehr
November 8, 2006
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

The film was withdrawn, recut, and eventually banned by the occupying forces for its "demoralizing" effects. It was not shown again in its complete form until 1965, when it became clear that here, per... Full Review

Andrew O'Hehir
November 2, 2006
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

Like the very greatest artists in all media, Renoir was able to transcend his own perspective, his own prejudices, and glimpse something of the terror and wonder of human life, the pain of misapplied ... Full Review

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The Rules of the Game Trivia


  • This film served as an inspiration for Robert Altman's Gosford Park.  Answer »
  • "Do not speak to me of rules. This is war! This is not a game of cricket!" Which war film?  Answer »
  • 'Do not speak to me of rules. This is war! This is not a game of cricket!' -- 1957 (Hint: Alec Guinness is in this movie.)   Answer »
  • Gabrielle Union, who starred in Breakin' All the Rules (2004), Daddy's Little Girls (2007), Two Can Play That Game (2001) and She's All That (1999), played the character of Dorothy in Running with Scissors (2006)?  Answer »

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