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Les Biches (1968)

Les biches (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 26 September 1968 (USA)
Architect Paul Thomas insinuates himself into the relationship of two bisexual women living in a St. Tropez villa with tragic consequences.

Director:

Claude Chabrol

Writers:

Paul Gégauff (screenplay), Claude Chabrol (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean-Louis Trintignant ... Paul Thomas
Jacqueline Sassard ... Why
Stéphane Audran ... Frédérique
Nane Germon Nane Germon ... Violetta
Serge Bento Serge Bento ... Bookseller
Henri Frances Henri Frances
Henri Attal Henri Attal ... Robègue
Dominique Zardi Dominique Zardi ... Riais
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Laure Valmée Laure Valmée
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Storyline

Frédérique is a rich and beautiful woman who picks up a female street artist called "Why". It is December and they go to her villa in Saint Tropez, which is inhabited by a couple of odd gay men. Both women fall for the local architect Paul Thomas. However Why says that she is not interested in him, so Frédérique invites him to move into the villa. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Sensual Triangle See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

26 September 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bad Girls See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Claude Chabrol later admitted he included the lesbian plot in order to help the film at the box office. See more »

Quotes

Why: She lends me things. Does that surprise you?
Paul Thomas: Nothing surprises me in this house. Nothing!
See more »

Connections

References The Naughty Nineties (1945) See more »

Soundtracks

Aurora
Written and Performed by Pierre Jansen Et Son Orchestre
See more »

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User Reviews

One of Chabrol's better 60's efforts, a suspenseful, intelligent, and stylish drama
11 August 2008 | by ametaphysicalsharkSee all my reviews

Although comparisons to Hitchcock are inevitable (and perhaps deserved), Chabrol's best films have an ethereal quality and a unique approach to the storytelling that's all his. In many ways, although coming in the late stages of what is considered by many Chabrol's transitional phase (which I sometimes think is a polite way to say 'Chabrol went daft on us and decided he was a glossy espionage thriller sort'), "Les Biches" is reminiscent of some of Chabrol's early films, including the ones which were key to the development of the French New Wave. There's a lot of that in this film, with its off-kilter approach and unconventional editing, a pleasant surprise coming after the glossy, typical murder-mystery that was "The Champagne Murders". This film fits perfectly with Chabrol the auteur's style, ideology, and storytelling method (focusing heavily on the characters), and it's nice to see him craft such a visually remarkable film after the disappointments that preceded.

Before going further into the visual aspects of the film I'd like to address the script. In short, it's great. It's the sort of thing that could have so easily been a heinously atrocious melodrama or a cheap skin flick (which, as the film involves bisexuality, is unsurprisingly how it was marketed in the US), but is so intelligently-written and well-developed that it works tremendously well. Most importantly, of course, the characters are complex and interesting enough to carry the first half of the film, before the strange relationships between the three main characters come to the forefront and Chabrol relentlessly builds the sexual tension and suspense all the way through to the film's excellent final scene.

The visuals are unquestionably Chabrol. The direction is highly controlled and the camera is rarely still, and even then a zoom is almost expected. With most other directors this would almost feel impatient and unnecessary but Chabrol is always able to use the technique to his advantage, using the motion evocatively and reflecting the nature of the film's events, and this also means that stillness can be used to great effect (as it is in a key scene in around the hour and twenty minute mark). The cinematography by Jean Rabier (Cléo de 5 à 7) is excellent and doubtlessly influenced heavily by Chabrol, who frequently favors muted colors, especially pastels, and understated use of sunlight. The choreography of the camera movement and those in front of the camera is of far more interest than the photography, however, and may even be a nuisance to some viewers as the movement of the characters is often very contrived and even unnatural to create a particular sort of shot composition. These scenes achieve a sort of gracefulness that ultimately works in favor of the film stylistically, but realists and naturalists might be upset.

"Les Biches" is one of Chabrol's better sixties films, a taut, suspenseful drama that should be approached without any specific expectations of genre or style. The characters carry the film, and Chabrol's stylish but sophisticated direction keeps the film involving and gripping, allowing the viewer a rare bit of comfort now and then before raising the tension again.

9/10


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