Beyond the handsome, dying world war II soldier is the face of two people kissing. I'm pretty sure that very few people know that the film James McAvoy stands in front of in Atonement is called Port Of Shadows, a far superior romantic film to the one it graces with its presence. Port Of Shadows was the perfect Poetic Realist film. It was noir before noir. A man escapes from the front, tired of violence and hypocrisy, to a small harbor town. He meets a woman, abused by her guardian, spit on by her man. The soldier, Jean Gabin, was every cinematic square-jaw before they had a chance to be so. He predates Bogart, McQueen, Eastwood, Douglas, Delon, Willis, Ford and all the others who took names and got by on their looks. Here, he's angst personified and seems to utter less than a hundred lines, yet when he kisses Michèle Morgan, smacks Pierre Brasseur and puts Michel Simon in traction, he's electrifying. Every action, word, breath, wish, everything spoken and felt is heavy and romantic. Marcel Carne understood his quiet side. Julien Duvivier knew how to bring out his brute side for maximum effect and Renoir could turn him into the boy next door, but Carne could make him blend in with a world of fog, dust, suicide and desperation. Carne made so much out of misery, that it often feels like his plots needn't unfold before we know the end, though we wish it wouldn't go the way it does. The world turns and nobody wants to be forgotten, but that seems to be all that happens. Men live and die, some are murdered, some don't need any help. In that regard Carne was telling the truth, but if every street tough looked as 30s rugged as Gabin or every woman as divinely lit and shimmering as Michèle Morgan, things might have gone differently for Paris. Carne was a genius, alright. Just watch Les Enfants Du Paradis. When his characters believe something you, too, believe it. If for no other reason than you need to.