When Betty is caught en flagrante, her bourgeois in-laws and husband force a divorce settlement upon her and bar her from seeing her two daughters. She is rescued from an alcoholic stupor ... See full summary »
In nineteenth-century France, the romantic daughter of a country squire (Emma Rouault) marries a dull country doctor (Charles Bovary). To escape boredom, she throws herself into love ... See full summary »
Charles Desvallées has good reasons to believe that his wife is cheating on him and hires a P.D. in order to prove himself right. Once he knows the lover is writer Victor Pégala, he drives ... See full summary »
Marie Latour, a woman of limited schooling, raises two children in a ratty flat during World War II in occupied France. In 1941, her husband Paul returns from German captivity, too weak to ... See full summary »
Francois comes back to his home village in France after more than a decade. He notices that the village hasn't changed much, but the people have, especially his old friend Serge who has ... See full summary »
Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul's flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with ... See full summary »
When US radar installations in Greece are jammed and an undercover NATO security man is killed, suspicion falls on his widow, who sets out to find the real culprits and prove herself ... See full summary »
Marie-Chantal travels by train to her cousin's place to spend a winter holiday, when a stranger - apparently a fugitive from someone aboard - entrusts her with a jewel in the shape of a ... See full summary »
Alice Carol leaves her husband one rainy night, telling him that she does not love him anymore. She travels alone but when her windscreen breaks on a lonely road, she has to stop and seek ... See full summary »
Doctor Popaul doesn't trust beautiful women: he says he prefers "moral beauty". Among colleagues he makes a bet who manages to sleep with the most ugly woman during the next year - and wins... See full summary »
When Betty is caught en flagrante, her bourgeois in-laws and husband force a divorce settlement upon her and bar her from seeing her two daughters. She is rescued from an alcoholic stupor by Laure, a middle-aged woman who takes Betty to her hotel lodgings, extends friendship and care, and listens to her story. Laure's lover, Mario, the proprietor of the bar where Betty and Laure met, is first a friend, then Betty's next conquest. Written by
Not Chabrol's finest effort, but an important contribution to his ouvre.
If you have never seen anything by Claude Chabrol, I would recommend that you see his masterpieces from the late sixties and early seventies first (This Man Must Die, Les Biches, La Boucher, La Femme Infidele, or Wedding in Blood). The tagline, "The French Hitchcock," has not served Chabrol very well, and is largely responsible, I would argue, for the director's descent into obscurity in recent years. (His mediocre work in the 90s has not helped matters). He has never been a darling of film critics or the advante garde, like a Truffaut or a Godard. His films exhibit neither the former's warmth and humanity, nor the latter's political and philosophical radicalism. And yet I would argue that Chabrol produced some of the most moving and politically subversive films of the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately, his very mastery of the medium is precisely what makes it so easy to neglect him as an auteur. His photography, editing, and writing are so seamless, so economical (wasting no movement of the camera or his actors), such that much occurs in his films, with out the viewer being aware of it. This is why it is so unfair to tag Chabrol the French Hitchcock. Not only do we already have a Hitchcock, but Chabrol's approach to suspense operates on a fundamentally different, and perhaps more profound, level (which is not to say that it is better or worse than Hitchcock's suspense). At the risk of sounding glib, Chabrol's suspense revolves around political and social relations, although the films themselves do their best to repress this aspect. Unlike Hitchcock, who in his less brilliant moments often had to resort to banal psychoanalytic dialogue (pretty much everything after 1950), Chabrol's treatment of "psychological" suspense is more refined. I place psychological in quotations because I think what one encounters with Chabrol is the canceling out of the merely psychological. Take, for example, La Femme Infidele. Some critics have often lamented that Chabrol's style is somewhat cold and matter-a-fact, in short, conventional. And yet how else could one capture the repressiveness of the relations of bourgeois life as brilliantly as Chabrol has done in this film. Think only of the austere sensuousness of Stephane Audran's legs in this film, and how perfectly these images exhibit the moral decadence of her world. Audran, who is the leading lady in at least half of Chabrol's films prior to 1980, stars in BETTY opposite Marie Trintignant. The relationship between Audran (at age 60) and the youthful Betty makes this picture one of the more provocative "sexual thrillers" in recent memory, and certainly better than anything presently being made in Hollywood. It's a shame that Chabrol's execution was not better. Not very many directors have the boldness or skill to film an older woman in erotic situations. Chabrol's directing of Audran in such situations is nothing short of masterful, and worth the rental fee alone.
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