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Sinners Go to Hell More at IMDbPro »No Exit (original title)

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

endless self-lacerating talk

5/10
Author: Prokievitch Bazarov (bazarov24@yahoo.com) from Polotrov, Russia
30 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE'S cheerless thesis that the only thing wrong with the world is the people in it is rendered acutely plausible in the film of his one-act play, "No Exit".

By the time the three doomed and bitter persons who constitute the articulate population of the play—one man and two vicious women, locked in a room in hell—have finished an hour and a half of snarling and verbally ripping one another to shreds, raking the coals of their spent lives and exposing their hot and hidden shames, the reasonably normal viewer is likely to feel he's in the hot place himself and be convinced that mankind is so rotten that, at least, he should give up writing plays.

Now, this may be precisely the reaction that Mr. Sartre wished and the film's director, Ted Danielewski, labored to stimulate. If so, they may have the satisfaction of knowing that this fairly faithful film has succeeded in infecting at least one viewer with incipient misanthropy.

But they should also know that the infection is not due solely to the persuasiveness of the play. It is due in some measure to the inertia and tediousness of the film.

Where Mr. Sartre's three-person discourse runs for less than an hour on the stage (which is long enough for anybody to have to listen to three actors talk), it is padded with more talk and business so that it runs a half-hour longer on the screen. Yet it reveals nothing more about the characters than is spewed out by them on the stage.

They are still three pretentious, poisonous persons who have failed in their lives on earth and are obviously doomed to endless failure with one another in this closed and barren room. The man is a revolutionary journalist who tries to deceive himself with the illusion he died a hero, when the fact is he was shot in cowardice. One of the women is a selfish social climber who has lovelessly married an older man, murdered her an older man, murdered her a lover to suicide. And the other woman is a ferocious cynic and an acknowledged lesbian who has taken her own life in sheer frustration and vicious contempt for mankind.

Locked in this sterile chamber, they are their own torturers. And the instrument of their torture is their endless self-lacerating talk. Insofar as their slashing conversation does lead the listener on into a maze of psychological involvements and a state of intellectual suspense, there is a certain cerebral interest—even excitement—in the film. It does trace an intellectual mystery to a chilly intellectual expose.

But the whole thing is so antiseptic and is directed so stagily by Mr. Danielewski that it is visually monotonous on the screen. And the acting of Viveca Lindfors, Rita Gam and Morgan Sterne is necessarily so aggressive and yet so bloodless and emotionally withdrawn that the actors could as well be lying on couches, shouting at one another from there, for all the sense of personal conflict and menace that comes from them.

Furthermore, in his screenplay, George Tabori has done a cinematically natural thing that actually dissipates a value—a very strong value—in the play. He has inserted pantomimed flashbacks of experiences the characters verbally describe, so that frequently the viewer is taken outside the barren room. While this does give a little visual movement and glints of melodrama to the film, it relieves the horrible sense of inescapable confinement that is the most shattering effect of the play.

But, at least, this proves that "No Exit" is inappropriate material for a full-length.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

There IS an exit. Take it!

5/10
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
16 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jean-Paul Sartre's short drama 'Huis Clos' (usually translated as 'No Exit') is a hardy perennial of amateur-theatre groups. The play requires only a bare stage with a few simple pieces of furniture, and a cast of four players. This 1962 film attempts to open up the action, as well as to expand it to a feature-length running time. Both of those ploys are mistakes.

The plot of 'No Exit' is well known, but I'll briefly recap. A servant escorts a man and two women into a sparsely-furnished room, and it's understood that they'll be staying indefinitely. These three people don't know each other, and don't want to get to know each other, but circumstances require some acquaintance. Garcin is an intellectual who fancies himself a bold revolutionary, but he's really a coward and a selfish hypocrite. Estelle enjoys manipulating men sexually, even to the point of destroying them utterly. Inez is a neurotic lesbian.

SPOILERS COMING. Garcin, Inez and Estelle quickly rumble that all three of them are dead, and that now they are in Hell. And this room is no waiting room: Garcin, Inez and Estelle have been sentenced to eternal damnation in the form of being confined to this room, forced to keep each other's company for all eternity. The most famous line in 'No Exit', as rendered in most English translations, is the prisoners' final realisation: 'Hell is other people!'

This 1962 film version is faithful to Sartre's original script, but makes two fatal errors. The first is the decision to expand the short play to feature length. There just isn't enough plot here to sustain this decision. There are only two real events in the story: the first when we realise that these people are in Hell, and the other when we realise *why* this particular Hell is going to be so insufferable. Once it's obvious that these three people are just going to stay here forever in an unchanging suite, like an indoor version of 'Waiting for Godot', there's no point in prolonging the agony for the audience.

The other mistake - but a more interesting one - was the script adaptor George Tabori's decision to depict on screen the sins which led these three people to end up in Hell. While the three inmates speak lines that are basically translations of Sartre's original monologues, we see silent flashback enactments of these predatory people interacting with their victims. This is a very intriguing idea that doesn't quite work. The filmmakers understandably wanted to take us out of this hellish little room, and show us other characters in other settings ... but the whole point of Sartre's script is that these three sinners must remain in this room forever, with each other and nobody else.

Lindfors gives much the best performance in this movie. As the sole male inmate, Morgan Sterne (who?) plays the central role ... but his performance as Garcin is dull and unconvincing.

This movie isn't very good, but it takes a few risks ... and mostly fails, yet deserves some credit for taking them. Also, the source material is one of the most important stage plays of the 20th century. I'll rate 'No Exit' 5 points out of 10.

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6 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

your an id

6/10
Author: katieq72 from United States
27 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, Estelle is not a lesbian, Inez is the lesbian. Estelle seduces men and even drives them to suicide. Inez tries to seduce Estelle the whole time, but Estelle is focused on Garcin. Estelle refuses Inez, because she wants a man not a woman. Inez is irate at this.

None of the main characters in No Exit commits suicide, Estelle dies of pneumonia, Inez is killed when her lesbian lover turns on the gas while she sleeps, and Garcin is shot 12 times for running from war. Estelle's lover commits suicide, but not Estelle.

Maybe you should catch up on your reading before you post, id.

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5 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Mistaken?

Author: matanshelomi from Scarsdale, USA
2 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I dunno the movie, but I am reading the book. In the original story (in French), Ines is the lesbian, and she does not commit suicide. Her lesbian lover kills them both with gas, while Ines sleeps.

Estelle is depicted as a vain woman who married a rich man and had an affair… with deadly results. Garcin is in Hell for torturing his wife, as he claims, "because it was easy." Now, if the movie intentionally muddled the story, or whether u made an error, I'm not sure. I agree that adding non-room scenes removes from the

existentialist aspect of the story, but i cannot imagine audiences showing much interest without some sort of visual cue.

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