The film The Cousins by Claude Chabrol is a tale of two young men, both trying to find their place in the world. Chabrol made this film when he inherited some money. At the time this film was made (1959) in France the average film cost about $300,00 American dollars to make it. This film was made for about $60,000 American dollars. Chabrol is often compared to Hitchcock, as many of his films are psychological thrillers. Chabrol is still making films today.
The film centers around two main characters, Charles and Paul. The other important character is Florence. Charles has come to Paris to study law, and he will be staying with his free-spirited, slight arrogant cousin Paul. Paul also is studying law, though one would never guess this by Paul's behavior. In the film Paul is cool and suave, and Charles is always trying to catch up with Paul, while still being his own person.
There is a lot of foreshadowing in this film. When Charles is studying the night before his exam, he sends Florence (the woman with whom he is in love) away. As she leaves, the camera spins around the room, like Charles is spinning out of control. This is one of the moments when you can see that Charles would like to be having fun and being carefree with Paul. Instead Charles spends the night studying, while Paul throws a party celebrating his passing of the exam, which he did not preparing for. When Charles fails the exam, he takes out his anger on Paul. The jealousy becomes too much. We again see foreshadowing when we always see Paul with the gun, you just know something is going to go wrong eventually. We see foreshadowing again, when Charles puts one bullet in the gun, goes into Paul's bedroom, while Paul is sleeping, and asks the question "will he still be lucky?" And Paul is, unfortunately Charles is not. Later that morning, as Paul is again playing with a gun (who plays with a gun, only someone extremely arrogant!) a shot is fired, and Charles is killed.
You feel no empathy for any of the characters is the film. You see Paul as spoiled and arrogant, doing things he should not, and living a lifestyle he should not be living. You see Charles, and while one might want to feel empathy for him, there is plenty which will discourage. My favorite, is when Charles finds out that Paul and Florence are together, and they are all going to be living together, his response is "I'll get my turn!" ugh!!!
Also, I felt nothing but contempt for Florence. Here is a woman who lets someone tell her who should she love. She thinks she is falling for Charles, so she tells Paul and Clovis, and they both tell her, that she needs to be in love with Paul instead, and so she just agrees! She touches his face, and suddenly they are in love! Ridiculous!
This film tries to stress the importance of conformity. Everyone being the same, whether it is the right way to be or not. Charles is always trying to fit in with Paul's crowd, Florence is trying to make everyone happy, herself last, and Paul is living the swinging lifestyle that he thinks is cool. Conformity is not the answer.