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Renee Saccard is a pampered, selfish young wife of a middle-aged Parisian businessman who falls in love with her stepson but is driven to the point of madness when her husband tricks the stepson into betraying her. Written by
From what little I've watched of Vadim's work, this is his most consistently satisfying effort (though the best overall film would still be his famous horror compendium SPIRITS OF THE DEAD , co-directed with Federico Fellini and Louis Malle).
Based on a novel by Emile Zola (curiously enough, the very next day I watched THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA , a superb Hollywood biopic!), the film deals with a bourgeois family disrupted when the ageing patriarch's second and much younger bride falls for her husband's son from his earlier marriage (who is her peer); while the script isn't especially deep, the film is absorbing all the way. Impeccably shot by Claude Renoir, its garish style is very typical of 60s European Art-house cinema and the sitar-tinged score even gives it a psychedelic vibe!
The three main roles - Jane Fonda (married to Vadim at the time and therefore still in her "sex kitten" days), Peter McEnery (a surprising choice but a good one) and Michel Piccoli (effortlessly hypnotic, he's simply one of the finest - if largely unsung - actors of his generation) - are splendidly filled. The ending is somewhat abrupt and unresolved but, again, it's totally in keeping with the times in which it was made!
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