A liberated small-town girl and the family's black sheep moves to Paris with her sister, only to find herself standing trial for the shocking murder of her young lover. Was his killing preme... Read allA liberated small-town girl and the family's black sheep moves to Paris with her sister, only to find herself standing trial for the shocking murder of her young lover. Was his killing premeditated or was this a crime of passion?A liberated small-town girl and the family's black sheep moves to Paris with her sister, only to find herself standing trial for the shocking murder of her young lover. Was his killing premeditated or was this a crime of passion?
THE TRUTH – included in the all-time top 3,000 movies ranked by the "Wonders In The Dark" website – was the only title involving either to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: incidentally, it is preceded by the Columbia logo and, apparently, was simultaneously shot in English as per contemporary posters!; for what it is worth, the film deservedly missed out to Ingmar Bergman's beautifully stark parable THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960) – even if they actually emerged joint winners at the Golden Globes! Anyway, what we have here is the trial of a crime of passion (with the star herself in the dock), the backstory of which is then seen in flashback – triggered off by the interrogations of various witnesses. Clouzot managed to rope in an impressive supporting cast for his plethora of characters: Charles Vanel as Bardot's practiced Defense Counsel, Paul Meurisse as the showy Prosecutor – incidentally, both these actors had already appeared together for Clouzot in one of his greatest works, DIABOLIQUE (1955) – and youngsters Sami Frey and Jacques Perrin among the uninhibited (what else?) protagonist's numerous lovers, the former being also the victim in the case.
The director's renowned clinical eye for detail is well in evidence throughout – but the film's two sections do not necessarily jell in this particular instance (perhaps tellingly, the 122-minute movie had as many as six scriptwriters assigned to it!). The narrative proper, then, seems to belong to the 'wasted youth' trend kickstarted by Federico Fellini's I VITELLONI (1953); indeed, despite their highbrow aspirations (musician Frey juggles a relationship with Bardot and her 'saintly' elder sister, all the while attempting to set up his own orchestra!), these singularly colourless personages come across as low-lifes more than anything else: the crime itself, followed immediately by the heroine's attempted suicide, is easily the standout here. Conversely, the backhanded tactics prevalent in the over-crowded courtroom lend much cynical enjoyment – thus countering the necessarily static nature of the cinematography during these sequences.
Still, the film is considered as the one in which the star gave her best performance (she even won the Italian equivalent of the Oscar for it as Best Foreign Actress): though the events leading up to the night of the crime and where the real guilt lay (hence the title) are hotly debated by both sides, it is inconceivable to accuse Frey (who could hardly be blamed for lusting after Bardot) over her (whose feelings for him – whether genuine or merely to spite her "square" sibling – are never properly defined) which is perhaps why the trial ends abruptly as it does! In retrospect, the movie can be seen to have much in common with the afore-mentioned "Inferno" – whose troubled shoot was delineated in a feature-length documentary released in 2009 (after Claude Chabrol had already impressively refashioned Clouzot's original script for his own 1993 effort L'ENFER).
- Feb 25, 2014