Jean de Florette
Top 50 Film
At almost four hours, it's a long, slow burn of a film [ok, while techically two, watching one without the other would be a much less fruitful experience], and is almost Shakespearean in its tragedy, since you can see the elements unfolding long before they come to fruition. Normally, this would be a weakness, but Berri turns it into a strength - you can't tear your eyes off the screen and stop watching this dramatic equivalent of a road-accident. This was the film that propelled Beart onto our "Babes" list, but the change that comes over her as she realizes the power she holds, is as disturbing as her beauty is alluring. Auteuil deserves especial credit too, taking a character motivated largely by greed and lust, and giving him a surprisingly sympathetic quality: by the end, you feel sorry for Ugolin, even as he fully gets his just deserts [yes - that is how it's spelled, though it's pronounced like the pudding]. If not quite the best pastoral tragedy, coming just behind Tess, it's an immensely satisfying experience, with a double-whammy of an ending whose wallop is payoff for everything that's gone before.