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L'histoire d'Adèle H.
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Story of Adele H More at IMDbPro »L'histoire d'Adèle H. (original title)

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Passion? or Guilt?

8/10
Author: jcappy from ny-vt
20 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Guilt or Passion? 8 Is guilt or passion the driving force behind Adele's obsession for Lt Pinson? I think the former. Maybe it's her re-current dreams of her older sister's tragic death by drowning, maybe it's her conscious guilt over that accident--she wished it because this sister was her father's dear favorite---but for me it's her ENIGMATIC SMILE while viewing her beloved's sexual encounter and her subsequent gift of a prostitute which argue even more deeply for guilt.

For how can deep passion cut itself off from the body without abstracting itself? If her love was real, concrete, it was embodied. At that SMILE'S precise moment, passion/love must become guilt/penitence. Or, if this love started with guilt/penitence and Pinson is simply a stand-in for her dead sister, than all that can be left now is suffering. Because it is now brutally clear that the love she seeks--to heal her guilt--has been denied. The physical bond is severed. Pinson has stripped Adele of her body--and thus of her key to response. Now guilt has killed passion and has shut down possibility. Only suffering remains, and Adele's downward spiral into self-destruction has begun. Pinson's cold indifference, selfishness, and womanizing are now mere penance, which she can only passively endure. She may survive--and does, but not as a lover, saint or mystic.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Isabelle's face

Author: Benedict_Cumberbatch from Los Angeles, CA
21 November 2007

Compared to "Jules & Jim", "Day for Night" or "The 400 Blows", "The Story of Adèle H." seems a minor Truffaut, but it's still a memorable film. Isabelle Adjani's sublime performance - and, we cannot deny, her mesmerizing beauty - as Victor Hugo's daughter, Adèle, blindly in love with a Lieutenant (played by Bruce Robinson, who wrote "The Killing Fields" and directed "Jennifer 8"), are the greatest force behind this film: Isabelle's face is one of the most expressive in film history, and she makes us feel all the sorrow of the tragic Adèle with a single look. Adjani should've won the Oscar she was nominated for (Louise Fletcher won it for her great, but borderline supporting performance in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), but we know the Academy doesn't tend to give the statuette to actresses in foreign films (they haven't done that since 1961... hopefully that'll change next year if Marion Cotillard deservedly wins for her groundbreaking turn as Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose"). Academy's blunder apart, this is a sad and touching story of unrequited love that makes us wonder: why do we always fall for those who don't want us? If you ever fell for someone who didn't care for you (if you're one of 99% of the population, that is), you'll relate to Adèle's story at some point, even if your case wasn't as extreme as hers (and, for your own sake, I hope it isn't!). 8/10.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

fascinating study showing woman going from obsession to madness

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
9 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an incredibly sad movie to watch because you know that Adele was a REAL person who lived an incredibly screwed up and sad life. She was completely wrapped up in her dream of marrying a British soldier--so much that she followed him across the Atlantic, tells her parents she married him (after he repeatedly refused to do so) and planned the details of her life around this obsession. Slowly, she moves from a form of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder to Schizophrenia and it is especially apparent in the last portion of the movie.

I really liked Isabelle Adjani's acting--she and the director (Truffaut) really pulled you into her world and it seemed quite poignant. However, the treatment of her love (who was completely indifferent to her) seemed rather superficial. Despite the pains she put him through, his emotional range in response to this MINIMAL and this is the biggest drawback in the movie. However, as the movie is HER story and this is handled so well, I still give the movie a 9. It could have gotten a 10 if it explored him better and if it explained WHY Adele's famous father (Victor Hugo) did so little to stop her on her self-destructive decline. He only acted once she was undeniably mad.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Poetic

10/10
Author: elaurens88
20 September 2000

A beautiful, haunting film. You will not be able to forget it. The performances (especially Adjani's)are sensitive and moving as is the direction and the script. Definitely the most intelligent movie about obsessive love ever made. If you are a Truffaut fan, or just a film fan in general, rent this film immediately.

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"Cinematographic, literary and psychological love-story..."

7/10
Author: Sindre Kaspersen from Norway
29 October 2012

French New Wave screenwriter, film critic, actor, producer and director Francois Truffaut's 14th feature film which he co-wrote with French screenwriter Jean Gruault and French screenwriter and director Suzanne Schiffman (1929-2001), is based on American academic Frances Vernor Guille's book "Le Journal d'Adèle Hugo" from 1968. It was shot on locations at St Peter Port, Guernesey, the Bailiwik of Guernsey, Channel Islands in France, Barbados and Senegal. It premiered in France, was screened at the 13th New York Film Festival in 1975 and was produced by French film producer and actor Marcel Berbert and French screenwriter, producer and director Claude Miller (1942-2012). It tells the story about Adèle Hugo, the second daughter of French poet Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who in 1863 during the second year of the American Civil War travels under the assumed name of Miss Lewly from France to Canadian Halifax. There she meets the elder couple Mr. and Mrs. Saunders who runs a boarding house and who lets her stay with them. Adéle has made her journey to find a man named Lt. Albert Pinso who is stationed there with British troops, and she begins her search by contacting a local notary.

Precisely and subtly directed by French filmmaker Francois Truffaut (1932-1984), this finely tuned and biographical story which is narrated from the protagonist's viewpoint, draws an incisive portrayal of a woman's unconditional and irrevocable devotion to man whom unknowingly has captured her heart. While notable for it's atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling production design by French production designer Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko, cinematography by Spanish cinematographer Néstor Almendros (1930-1992), costume design by costume designer Jacqueline Guyot, fine editing by French film editors Martine Barraqué and Yann Dedet and prominent use of colors, this character-driven and narrative-driven period piece depicts a scrutinizing study of character and contains a good score by French composer Maurice Jaubert (1900-1940).

This historic, tragic and romantic late 19th century drama from the mid-1970s about a young and cultivated woman's afflicting and obsessive infatuation with a British officer she has chosen as her one and only, which is one of Francois Truffaut's most complicated and ambitious productions, is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, substantial character development and the gripping and internal acting performance by French actress Isabelle Adjani. A cinematographic, literary and psychological love-story from the mid-1970s which gained, among other awards, the NSFC Award for Best Actress Isabelle Adjani at the 10th National Society of Film Critics Awards in 1975.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Victor Hugo's Daughter as a Stalker!

Author: chconnol from New York, N.Y.
23 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well made and competent, Truffaut's "Adele H." is, at it's most basic level, the story of a stalker. That the stalker is the daughter of Victor Hugo simply adds to the morbid curiousity of it all.

Adjani is pretty in a simple way which lends itself well to the story. As the British soldier who is the object of Adele's all consuming passion, Bruce Robinson is callow enough that it makes you wonder why she would follow him all over the "new world" for him.

I especially like the mixing of both English and French especially in the scenes in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And the period details (like the soldier's uniforms) gives the film a very realistic feel without being overbearing.

The ending is a bit of a let down because you kind of expect some kind of melodramatic ending considering all that Adele went through. To realize (SPOILER HERE) that she did go back to France and led an OK life until her death in 1915 is, despite the fact that it's true, anti-climatic. I think it would have been more satisfying to see how she was when she went back to France. Did she recover completely? Was she still somewhat obessessed? We simply get a quickie voiceover that feels like a cheat.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Slow and subtle, yet enthralling

Author: bd74 from USA
16 September 1999

If you like foreign-language films, then you need to see this movie. It's a period piece, about a young woman's obsessive love for a man--an obsession that drives her into madness. The highlight of this movie is, of course, the performance of Isabelle Adjani (who plays the title character). She gives an absolutely amazing performance in this movie (and from what I understand, she was only 19 or 20 years old when she made this film). This film kind of reminds me of Roman Polanski's "Tess", because of the colors that are used in this film, and because both films have a slow though graceful pace. This movie can also be described as an arty film--I like the creative shots in some of the scenes. What I didn't like was the fact that the subtitles moved too quickly in some scenes. But I was certainly impressed by this movie, and especially by Adjani's performance.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The Real French Lieutenant's Woman

Author: Jon F from Hampshire, England
8 February 1999

This is the story of Adele Hugo, daughter of Victor Hugo. Adele was seduced by a French Lieutenant who promptly left her for foreign shores. Adele followed him for several years trying to win him back until she was found a penniless mentally disturbed vagrant in Barbados.

Adele was the last Hugo to die (sometime in the 1940s). Isabele Adjani (also Nosferatu 1979) brings the role of Adele to life superbly.

This is a brilliant film! one of Truffaut's best.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Terrific Look and Lead Performance

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
24 January 2011

Story of Adele H, The (1975)

*** (out of 4)

Isabelle Adjani picked up an Academy Award nomination for her performance of Victor Hugo's second daughter Adele who follows Lt. Pinson (Bruce Robinson) to Halifax where her obsession with him quickly turns to madness. We follow Adele as she first arrives in Halifax and tries to get the man to marry her but when he refuses we see her continue various attempts in getting what she wants but each time these attempts just become more outlandish. THE STORY OF ADELE H appears to get fairly mixed reviews. Some call it a masterpiece and one of the director's best works while others call it cold and forgettable. I guess I'm in the middle because I thought the film was terrific to look at and we also get a great performance by Adjani but in the end it was just impossible for me to connect with this character or care a bit about her. There's no denying that this is an incredible film to look at as director Truffaut does a marvelous job in capturing the mood and look of the 1860s. No matter what was happening on the screen I simply couldn't take my eyes off the costumes, sets and even the buildings. There's one very quick sequence where Adele is walking through a snowstorm and passes out. Even the look of the snow was rather hypnotizing to and beautifully shot. Truffaut takes his time telling the story and this actually builds up a pretty good atmosphere and the way he reveals the woman's obsession and how he shows it turning into this craziness is picked up very well with the slower pace. Adjani certainly deserves all the praise because she's simply divine no matter what personality she's playing. There's a scene early in the movie where she's staying at a house and the soldier comes to visit her. The way Adjani goes from normal to mad in the matter of seconds was extremely believable and there wasn't a false move by her anywhere in the film. The supporting players fit their parts well, although no one really stands out. The one flaw I had with the film was the fact that I never really connected to Adele nor did I ever really begin to feel for her. The only thing that kept me connected to her was knowing she was the daughter of Victor Hugo who of course is a legend. If this had been anyone else in the world then it's doubtful I would have connected to her for anything. The film is still worth viewing if you're a fan of the director but in terms of his career I'd say this isn't nearly his best work.

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