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One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in which he puts an empty revolver to his head and threatens to shoot himself. One day, while the husband is away, she puts bullets in the revolver. However, she is stricken with remorse and tries to retrieve the bullets the next morning. Her husband gets to the revolver first only this time he points the revolver at her. Written by
Anurag Garg <email@example.com>
"La Souriante Madame Beudet" is mostly interesting and a classic because of its unusual and daring theme, for its time. Back in the '20's women rights weren't exactly regarded as the most important or relevant things, to put it mildly. Women were often oppressed and restrained in their marriage, to mainly only household chores, as is shown in this movie about a woman who is trapped in a loveless marriage.
Of course there is not much to the story, it's just purely about its theme. The movie follows the life of the husband and wife over a couple of days, in which she gets humiliated and has to do humiliating chores for her husband. She starts thinking about taking revenge but the intelligent woman is soon stricken with remorse. The movie shows the position of the woman in everyday life and it of course does so by exaggerating things to make its point. Normally we only know French movies for its perfect and romantic love stories. This is a whole different piece of cake.
The movie is made in a style-full fashion, which makes the movie really interesting to watch, even for todays standards. The movie has some interesting camera positions, such as a couple of over-shoulder shots. But also the storytelling is interesting and style-full, such as in the sequences were the husband is faking emotions and in the background the mirror opens with a couple of hand-puppets playing the exact same scene, with the words 'all theater' appearing. It makes the imaginative Germaine Dulac directing also one of the highlights of the movie.
Alexandre Arquillière is brilliantly repulsive as the husband and Germaine Dermoz is great as the obviously more intelligent wife. There are a couple of more characters but the movie does a good job at concentrating mostly purely on the two main character were after all the movie and its plot is all about of course.
In todays perspective, the movie is both interesting and beautiful to watch.
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