French filmmaker Claude Chabrol kick started French New Wave in 1958 with Le Beau Serge. The film is about a man (Jean-Claude Brialy) who returns to his village after living in the city for health reasons and discovers his old friend (Gérard Blain) is a drunken shell of a man and decides to try and save him.
Personally I think Chabrol’s follow up Les Cousins is a better film. It’s sort a reverse of Le Beau Serge. Gérard Blain is a country cousin who comes to the big city to go to university and is staying with his decadent cousin, Jean-Claude Brialy. Brialy loves to party, throwing drunken hedonistic binges that frustrates the landlady in the morning (she’s the one that has to clean up the mess). For Blain, it’s a whole new world to him and he’s pretty naive to it. At one of the party’s, he falls in love with a girl named Florence. Brialy notices this and decides to make Florence his woman, which she agrees. Heartbroken, Blain decides to throw himself into his studies. The film starts slow, showing the excesses that the city cousin lives in, but once the story starts unfolding in the second half, a slow tension starts to build to an ending that I’d hate to spoil.
Chabrol abandoned the French New Wave style a few years later and started focusing on suspense and thriller films but with his own unique style. He was very prolific and made some brilliant movies like Le Boucher (1970), The Unfaithful Wife (1969) and Nada (1974) just to name a few.