La Vérité (1960) Poster


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Just a masterpiece, like any Clouzot's work
pzanardo31 July 2012
It appears that the outstanding director Henri-George Clouzot was unable to make movies short of being masterpieces. "La Verite" may be defined as the "European Rashomon", and, well aware that my opinion will be considered a sacrilege, I venture to say that Clouzot's film is even better than Kurosawa's celebrated masterpiece. In fact, the essence of both "Rashomon" and "La Verite" lies in the quest of the truth of a story, reconstructed through a sequence of flash-backs.

"La Verite" narrates the trial of the breathtakingly-beautiful-sexy lost girl Dominique (Brigitte Bardot), for the murder of her former boy-friend Gilbert (Samy Frey). Everybody (Dominique herself, her former friends and various lovers, her enemies, notably her own sister, as well as lawyers and prosecutors) states his own version of the facts, but what is the actual truth? To simplify the question: is Dominique just a ruthless killer, or was she a weak, enamored girl, victim of Gilbert's selfishness and bullying? As always in Clouzot's movies, "La Verite" is extremely intense, packed with a profound and uncompromising psychological study. The almost obsessive pace of events gives no break to both the characters and the audience. The script is first-rate, with plenty of cynical sense of humor, in spite of the dramatic facts told.

Brigitte Bardot was a great actress, endowed with an outstanding talent. A careful viewer could easily get it even from BB's performances in minor movies, like, say "Mademoiselle Pigalle". Here, under the sound direction of a genius like Clouzot, she is just sensational in a highly dramatic role. Of course, also the acting by the remainder of the cast is excellent, especially, needless to say, by the legends Charles Vanel and Paul Meurisse, as the two lawyers.

Possibly, the main credit of this fantastic movie lies in a gelid, sarcastic, misanthropic representation of human society. Arguably, this is the trade-mark of Clouzot's style, together with suspense, which here is present but not exasperated like in his other works. The world of the adults is wholly despicable, permeated as they are with hypocrisy, with prejudice and fear, especially in sexual matters, and with sickening cynicism, as masterly represented by the lawyer Paul Meurisse.

However, the youngsters are no better than the adults. They are just fatuous, selfish, conceited loafers, only able to utter pseudo-intellectual chats. As a matter of fact, when Dominique founds herself in dire straits, none of her young friends moves a finger to help her. And Dominique often appears even worse than the others. From some point of view, she might be considered a totally negative character.

So, what's the point of Clouzot? I think that's not an issue. He just shows what he sees; that's the style and the aim of one of the greatest artists in the history of cinema.

"La Verite" is a total masterpiece. It is impossible to be disappointed. Highly recommended.
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"La Vérité" kept its promises in regard to Bardot the actress…
Nazi_Fighter_David24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Henri-Georges Clouzot—a director of the older generation—was known for his uncompromising temperament, and, working together, he and Bardot attempted to rid her of the two-dimensional image she had been saddled with, as well as those two cumbersome initials which had come to represent so much…

Although the film was not Clouzot at his best, "La Vérité" kept its promises in regard to Bardot the actress… Her innate talent was finally recognized by the press in its entirety…

Clouzot attempted in his film to contrast the unrelenting morality of the French courts with the new, amoral life of youth; the truth, Clouzot shows, becomes distorted through the legal process… Dominique is the victim not only of her own self-indulgence but of a scheme of values in which she has no place…

Clouzot admired Bardot's acting capacity – "she has a very large range," he said… "She can pass with ease from comedy to drama and even to tragedy."
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Nothing hurts like "The Truth" ...
ElMaruecan826 February 2013
While the title might sound familiar to some hard-core fans, there are chances that many potential lovers will never have the opportunity to find this masterful courtroom drama on TV or DVD.

Indeed, the truth is that Henri-George Clouzot's film of the same name has been sentenced to decades of cinematic oblivion, 7 reviews on IMDb says enough. And the injustice is even more cruel because the movie stands alone as a masterpiece of the genre in a period full of gripping courtroom dramas such as "12 Angry Men", "Anatomy of a Murder", "Judgment at Nuremberg" or "Inherit the Wind" where the verdict mattered less than the quest for truth it initiated and the statements it spoke about the impact of human perceptions in the exercise of justice.

This is why the main question in "The Truth" is not 'who killed', not even 'how', but 'why?', the film takes place during the trial ensuing the murder of Gilbert Tellier, Sami Frey as a talented, handsome and ambitious conductor by his beautiful girlfriend, Dominique Marceau, who tried to kill herself right after. Dominique is played by a 25-year old Brigitte Bardot, in a breakthrough dramatic performance, that elevated her status to the most promising actress of her generation rather than a one-dimensional bimbo.

Yet Bardot's sex-appeal is still significant to the story as Clouzot intelligently exploits it to highlight the sulfurous past of a young idle girl who used her body as an asset, to live without working, without prostituting herself either. Indeed, Dominique Marceau isn't the typical slut: there is in her attitude something that nonchalantly confines to pathos, embodying the unease of the 60's youth, being in her own feminine and naughty way, a sort of rebel without a cause. And the intent of Clouzot is less to make a social commentary but to explore the different facets of a seemingly obvious personality.

The trial becomes the setting for a gripping character study, revisiting the life of Dominique Marceau before the killing from the perspective of two different counselors, played by two giants. Paul Meurisse denounces Dominique's laziness, the jealousy she always felt toward her more studious sister Annie, and a bunch of former lovers come to belie her faithfulness and love for Tellier, whom she murdered by vengeance, because she couldn't stand his relationship with Annie. As for her suicidal attempts, there were calculated acts since she was always sure someone would come at time to save her.

On the other side, Dominique's lawyer, played by Charles Vanel, tends to demonstrate that the murder was a passioned crime, an act of desperation from a tormented woman, as Dominique truly loved Gilbert and couldn't imagine life without him. One of the film's greatest delights is the verbal duel between the two actors, and their interactions that remind some of the great courtroom dramas, when two respectable adults, even friends, become visceral enemies during the trial, James Stewart and George C. Scott, Spencer Tracy and Frederic March or more recently, Tom Cruise and Kevin Bacon.

The interest of the Meurisse/Vanel antagonism is to keep a shadow of mystery around Bardot's real personality, a villainous killer or a woman victim of her passion. And as the story progresses, Dominique's portrait, originally painted in black and white reveals many shades of gray while her victim, the good-hearted Tellier becomes less and less innocent. The story opens in Paris where Bardot embodies the youth's ennui, living like a sort of social parasite whose only excuse is to use her body as thin consolation. Yet, she can't be a slut because she's totally unaware of conventions, she's beyond them, and doesn't even feel guilty.

Naturally, the inevitable happens, Tellier, Annie's friend falls in love with the sensual provincial girl. It's the typical love at first sight, but it's handled in a very talented way by Clouzot who's a real craftsman when it comes to human emotions. Hefirst meets Dominique when she's lying naked, topless in her bed, swinging her beautiful behind to some mambo music, she incarnates the luscious fruit, she's everything her sister is not, that's what makes her so obsessively desirable. Then the romance between Marceau and Tellier turns into a series of passion, deception, treachery and arguments like only a director like Clouzot could have painted without falling in a sentimental or either Manichean trap.

And as we get closer to the murder, we understand the roots of Dominique's behavior and her suicidal attempts carry deepest significances, rather than an act of despair, they crystallize the vulnerability of a girl that tries to find her place in society, torn between the true love of Gilbert and a sort of paradoxical innocence that raises above her lust. It feels strange but when you keep an eye on Bardot's performance, you'd think twice before calling a girl, a slut. Bardot was the perfect choice for the role and her breakdown transcends the sensual contours of her delicious body and can touch any soul.

After watching the film, I guess the reason of its lack of notoriety is the fact that H-G Clouzot is renowned for several masterpieces of the thriller genre, blending it with elements of horror, mystery or police procedural, therefore, a movie like "The Truth" comes too late in his filmography and doesn't meet the same recognition than the acclaimed "The Crow", "Quai des Orfèvres", not to mention the classic "Wages of Fear" and"Diaboliques". But on its own, it's a magnificent exploration of the human soul, a masterfully written courtroom drama, and still a Clouzot's film with its dark and pessimistic undertones, and the eternal cloud of ambiguity that envelops the character's personalities.

Bardot lived a romance with Frey after the film, and she was so affected by the experience that like her character, she tries to commit suicide, if a film haunted its own actors, it gives you an idea about the psychological impact it might have on you
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Passion and Justice
Thorsten_B21 March 2007
This comes as a surprise entry in Brigitte Bardots filmography. Surely the blonde siren wasn't everybody's first chance for a female lead in a Henri-Georges Clouzot film; then again, the role she is playing fits perfectly. Dominique Marceau is a pretty young girl eager to leave her parents home and live with her sister in Paris. Other than her, Dominique is living out her lust for life, hanging around with friends, with parties, drinking and casual affairs. By coincidence she encounters her sisters fiancée, a very serious young musician. Eventually they fall in love, but Dominique can't be faithful and Gilbert (Sami Freys character) cannot adjust to her way of life. They break up, reunite, and break up again – with Gilbert more and more being ridiculed by her affairs with other men. On the other hand, Dominique cannot let him go either, and when he suddenly loses all his passion and returns to her sister, Dominique makes a decision. This is all told in flashback sequences during the trial in which Dominique is accused of Gilberts murder. The people participated in finding the truth, Clouzot tells us, are incapable of leaving their personal convictions and moral perspectives out of the court. Whatever the verdict may be, Dominique won't leave as an innocent. - "La Verité" has some memorable scenes, not least the one where Gilbert is conducting Strawinskys "Oiseau de Feu" on television, which blends over to the next scene while the music continues without a break. While being a serious drama about passion and justice, Clouzots film still makes good use of Bardots erotic energy – and yet there is never a moment where the images make the story irrelevant.
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Brigitte Bardot's finest performance.
dbdumonteil6 December 2003
Here Brigitte Bardot strips bare and the precedent writer was completely right;it's not Dominique who's judged ,but Bardot herself.Never a character had been closer to the actress -I'm obviously speaking of the public figure- than this victim.Because she's primarily a victim : of a family who was dreaming of a good girl,respectful of family values -see Marie -José Nat 's Annie ,the perfect sister ,the "good" ,the earnest musician :she's so "straight"so "holier-than-thou,that she's almost frightening-;of a society ,not prepared to accept this new way of life,which predates the events of MAY 1968 and woman's lib;and finally,and mainly ,of men:they,too, are not prepared to accept the fact that a woman wants to live like .. a man:Samy Frey,the well-respected and well-meaning young man is actually a macho as well as a future mean bourgeois.

The man who worked this miracle ( turning Bardot into a first -class thespian) is none other than Henri-Georges Clouzot,one of the most daring clever gifted directors France has ever known.It was probably a hard time for him:he was about to become ill ,and that would prevent him from making another movie before 1968 ("the prisoner" ,his final achievement);besides the nouvelle vague on the rise dismissed Clouzot as a man of of the past,one of those creeps who "did not live what he was filming" (sic).Clouzot ,at his best, was better than 10 Chabrol ,20 Truffaut and 100 Godard ,but there's no accounting for tastes.Suffice to say that Clouzot,during his relatively short career (20 years ,and 11 films) ,took more chances single-handedly than the three artists mentioned above ,and his best works ("l'assassin habite au 21","le corbeau","quai des orfèvres","Manon","les diaboliques" -which got more praise abroad than in its native country- and "wages of fear" )are all classics.

"la vérité" is a long flashback ,a giant jig-saw the pieces of which will not completely put together at the end.The lovers of "les diaboliques" will appreciate the duel Paul Meurisse /Charles Vanel.They say HG Clouzot was very hard on his actors:but what a filmography!

In her memoirs ,BB wrote that it was HER favorite movie.
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Judging Bardot
Fiona-3918 March 2002
This is a particularly interesting film in relation to Bardot's star image. It portrays her as a little slut (she's had sex before marriage - cue shocked gasp from the courtroom) on trial for the murder of her lover. In many ways, the film thus acts out what many in France would like to have done - put BB on trial for her sexual promiscuity, her modernity, and her 'youthful' values. The film emphasises Bardot/ Dominique (the character is effectively overshadowed by the star who plays her) as sexual, modern, promiscious, flighty, idle, a spendthrift, all at odds with the uptight bourgeois ruling class. The film is a fascinating glimpse into the values that preoccupied the French bourgeoisie at the turn of the decade, with its emphasis on the students of the Latin Quarter as a drop out counter culture compared to the good youth learning traditional music at the Conservatoire. Not so much a generation clash, then, more one group rooted in tradition versus another embracing modernity and new models of behaviour. The film is sometimes unwittingly hysterical as it has dated so much, and it does not so much end as fizzle out, but in its depiction of a youthful counter culture it anticipates the events of May 1968 nearly a decade before they occur. BB may have lost the particular battle in this film, but she went on to win the war.
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Bardot and Clouzot - a milestone movie
dromasca19 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In Bernard Tavernier's film 'Laissez Passer' Henri-Georges Clouzot gets indirectly a harsh treatment. He is one of these directors who continued to work under the German occupation during WWII, and was attacked for this attitude long time after. He was also a fine director, classics like 'Quai d'Orfevres' and 'Diabolique' are among the best works in French cinema until the emergence of the New Wave, which displaced Clouzot.

It is ironical that 'La Verite' was his last great film, and that the New Wave exponents were so critical of him. The film contains in my opinion in it many of the elements that were further taken over, continued and amplified by Truffaut, Godard, et co. It is to some extent a milestone at the border between the classic and the new French cinema of the 60s. The subject itself speaks about the confrontation of two generations. A young girl is brought to trial. She killed her lover and the court needs to decide if this was an accident, or a passion crime, or a calculated murder. The tribunal is composed of all that represents the old generation - judges, lawyers, audience - all ready to pass a moral judgment or maybe a lynch on the girl. She comes from a different world, she belongs to a different generation, one that refuses to complain to conventions, she speaks a different language, listens to a different music, feels and loves differently. Today's spectator cannot abstain from thinking about 1968, the year when than generation took the streets in France and elsewhere, and changed history. But the year is still 1960, and the verdict of the trial can be only one.

The intuition of Clouzot is ahead of time not only in what concerns the historical judgment. It is also in the style of filming. Most of the film is a court drama, in the American tradition of Kramer, just translated in French. A few scenes however are filmed in the street, part of the flashbacks that recall the story of the affair that ended in tragedy. Well these scenes are for all practical purposed New Wave. They do not only depict the Paris of the new generation, they are also filmed in the style of the new generation of directors. Here Clouzot bends graciously towards the young directors that will defame him.

And of course, there is Brigitte Bardot. This is one of her best roles, she plays the whole range of emotions she is capable of, is beautiful and vulnerable, passionate and desperate. She attracts men, she attracts the attention, she creates emotion. It is her against the whole world, in a personal rebellion with no chance of success. With this film she established herself as a serious actress, not only as a popular star. It is her film to the same extent that it's Clouzot's and it is one to remember.
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The best thing Bardot ever did.
MOscarbradley31 August 2017
Far from the best of Clouzot and consequently not much revived but of considerable interest nevertheless for giving Bardot her best part. She plays a young woman on trial for murdering her lover and it alternates between the trial itself and the events leading up to the killing. It's got an outstanding cast, (Charles Vanel and Paul Meurisse are excellent as opposing lawyers and Bardot herself is terrific), and yet it often feels rather common-place, (Clouzot, his wife Vera and 4 others are credited with the screenplay; maybe a case of too many cooks?). For once, he doesn't build any suspense and you never really care what happens to Bardot. In the end it's the personality of the victim, (a first-rate Sami Frey), that proves to be the film's point of interest, though at 130 minutes it is something of a long haul.
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THE TRUTH (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1960) ***
Bunuel197625 February 2014
French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot occasionally alternated her standard titillating vehicles with films of greater substance (though, invariably, she was still required to shed her clothes!) often helmed by a top name within her native cinema – notable examples being Claude Autant-Lara's LOVE IS MY PROFESSION (1958), Julien Duvivier's THE WOMAN AND THE PUPPET (1959; the only one I have not watched, since it seems not to be available in an English-friendly version – but, of course, I am familiar with the three other adaptations of the Pierre Louys source material, as well as owning the novel itself!), the film under review (sharing disc space with the first-mentioned title on the copy I watched, after acquiring one on which the English subtitles did not work – that said, even here, translation for a slew of dialogue at a time is intermittently skipped – but, then, these are burnt-in on the print obtainable via "You Tube"!), Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT (1963) – unquestionably the finest of the lot – and Louis Malle's A VERY PRIVATE AFFAIR (1962), VIVA MARIA! (1965) and the "William Wilson" episode from SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (1968). As for director Clouzot, this was his last mainstream film – since his next, "Inferno" (begun in 1964), would be aborted due to his poor health and a subsequent one, LA PRISONNERE (1968), was perhaps too 'specialized' (read: extreme) to cater for other than 'underground' audiences! For the record, I still need to watch his MANON (1949) and LES ESPIONS (1957) from the ones I own.

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).
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Courting Disaster
writers_reign30 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a fascinating movie for French film buffs because it shows a pillar of the 'old school' or 'cinema du papa', namely Henri-Georges Clouzot showing the young Turks of the new wavelet how the big boys do it and really sticking it in and breaking it off. Clouzot had, of course, already written one classic 'court-room' drama in Les Inconnus de la maison back in 1941 and here he featured another but cleverly combined the interiors of the court with outdoor scenes but rather than have his leading player, Brigitte Bardot, walk up the street and then walk back down again a la the unimaginative Godard, he actually filled the frame with meaningful and relevant action. One person writing in IMDb has suggested that this is Clouzot's take on Roshomon and I for one am not prepared to say that viewpoint is wrong. Certainly in order to get at the truth of just why - assuming, of course, that she did - Brigitte Bardot shot Sami Frey co-writer/director Clouzot is prepared to explore the stories of each principal witness and significantly an early scene shows counsel Charles Vanel sketching a spider's web on his notepad whilst waiting for the proceedings to begin. Though she could never be accused of acting at least Brigitte Bardot makes a credible attempt under the expert tutelage of Clouzot. Very watchable.
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sizzling seduction scenes
christopher-underwood27 October 2019
For the most part this is dazzlingly effective with some super Paris street scenes of the time, splendid cafe and night club shots with surprisingly good dance sequences and of course, one of Bardot's very best performances. She does well throughout but in the sizzling seduction scenes, including the most amazing bottom wiggle under bedsheets, are quite remarkable. She truly sparkles and makes everything that happens here perfectly believable. The problem, of course, is that basically this is a courtroom drama, with flashbacks, and is overlong. I have no idea what drew Clouzot to this project but it is possible that whereas 'un crime passionnel' defence might have been good for a guy, he might have wanted to point out that it was not so straightforward the other way round.
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Strong French 60s Drama
pc9513 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Old and young is always relative. There is one's age and then how someone behaves. Director Henri-George Clouzot's "La Verite" was ahead of its time. It is an outstanding examination of love and obsession of the sexes. The dialog is direct and energetic The most interesting aspect of the movie is the juxtaposition of the lovers, exactly as the strongest fundamental line of the movie narrates out (major spoilers): "we loved each other, but at different times". I've seen Briggette Bardot in the forgettable "Shalako", but here she gives a strong gutsy, spirited, and believable act. This is an outstanding movie.
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