André Mercier, a journalist known as Albin Mercier, is a failed, embittered writer. Sent to cover an event in Germany, he gets to know Andreas Hartmann, another writer who, for his part, ... See full summary »
Roland, an idler living on the Left Bank in Paris, is determined to inflict a terrible revenge on his friend Arthur, after the latter subjected him to a harmless joke. He engages the ... See full summary »
Helene Regnier's husband Charles, who is mentally ill, injures their son Michel in a rage. Charles moves back in with his wealthy and manipulative parents, who blame Helene for their son's ... See full summary »
Lucienne Delamare and Pierre Maury are having an affair. Lucienne's husband Paul is the mayor, and a French deputy. Pierre's wife Clotilde has been weak and sickly for years. Lucienne's ... See full summary »
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Ginette, Rita, Jacqueline and Jane try to find fulfillment and love in their lives. Rita has a fiancé whose family is obsessed with social distinction; Jane has a boy-friend in the army, but does not hesitate to enjoy herself with chance encounters; Ginette has a mysterious passion that keeps her away from her colleagues at nights. Jacqueline is lonely; but who is that mysterious bike-rider who is constantly following her ?Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Les Bonnes Femmes (1960), now regarded as one of Claude Chabrol's masterworks, was a critical and commercial failure when it was originally released. In her autobiography "Le Roman de ma vie", Bernadette Lafont remembers that, at one point during the movie premiere, a viewer furiously screamed that he wanted back the 5 francs he had paid for the ticket. Chabrol, who was sitting before him, turned around and gave them to him. Also, at the end of the screening, another spectator tried to get in a fist fight with the director. The two men were separated. See more »
a girl I Vitelloni with even more observation and a curious (if obvious) Hitchcock angle
Claude Chabrol made a film before Les bonnes femmes, Les Cousins, which is what made him known as part of the French New Wave (he preceded Truffaut and Godard by a year). But viewing Les bonnes femmes before seeing Les Cousins, I almost feel like this is a director's first film, for a director like Chabrol, as it shows a lot of his concerns as a filmmaker: an observational stance with women, their sexuality and their distance from the opposite sex, the mundane in a bourgeois life, and the Hitchcock angle of danger and the unknown. It's also in line with the other Nouvelle Vague films in the sense that the filmmaker has broken out of any ties to a studio or sets, and everything is out in the streets or on location in places like nightclubs and music halls and swimming pools, and usually with hand-held cameras and (seeming) improvisation with the actors. This is a gritty, on-the-streets Chabrol one isn't used to from seeing films like This Man Must Die and The Butcher.
And yet I don't know if I can say it's as great as the big early films of the period like The 400 Blows and Breathless. Chabrol's film does carry, I'm sure, some personal weight. And he's interested in these girls, their casual life and goings-on, and how so easily one of them can be lured by a mysterious man in a mustache who follows them around in a motorcycle. But it's such a loosely structured film- barely a plot, even less, if you can imagine, than Breathless- that it takes a moment for us to realize something is going on. Which perhaps is part of Chabrol's angle here: like Fellini's film I Vitelloni, we're just watching these four girls in their everyday occurrences, going to a zoo, going to a nightclub and hooking up with two (obnoxious) strangers, going to a music gall where one of the girls is secretly singing and doesn't want to go on for fear of embarrassment of the others seeing her, and just walking around. Or, as well, the complacency of working at a TV store where no one comes in.
We are drawn in to these girls and who they are, however limited they're really shown as full characters (more-so Chabrol is interested, I think, in these girls as 'types' possibly, or in looking at them in a semi-documentary perspective). And metaphor is used from time to time; I'm sure the visit to the zoo, and Chabrol's carefully timed and composed reaction shots of the animals in the cages, is deliberate as to the girls' own self-prison of 20-something frivolity. And there's also the matter, again, of the motorcycle guy, who somehow charms this girl. Actually not somehow, as in this sort of Nouvelle Vague film-world it's precisely the kind of guy a girl would fall for, even one seemingly so uptight as the one he goes after. Seeing how this plays out between them can go one of two ways, and how Chabrol shows it in the last fifteen minutes is totally masterful. There's a sense of the inevitable, but he keeps us uncertain as an audience, which is good. I'm glad I couldn't quite see where the ending would go, though when it came it made sense and was satisfying (it even raised up the worth of the film overall a full notch).
But a masterpiece? Probably not. It's like a breezy fling through a Parisian quarter, on the dark streets and cool nights with beautiful girls and not-so-beautiful but flirty men, and it has some wonderful moments. It just doesn't add up completely into something that makes you want to shake your friend up and say "You MUST watch this!" like 400 Blows, or even The Butcher.
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