Halifax, 1863. A young woman, Miss Lewly, comes to Halifax to search for Lt Pinson, with whom she is madly in love. Actually, she is Adèle Hugo, the second daughter of the great French literary figure and statesman. The Lt Pinson does not answer to her love and makes her understand it is hopeless. But as her obsession grows she keeps chasing and harassing him. This film about passionate yet obsessive love and self-destruction is based upon the real diary of Adèle Hugo.Written by
A quietly haunting film with a staggering performance from Adjani
"I'm still young and yet it sometimes seems to me that I've reached the autumn of my life." This tragic statement, taken from the diaries of Adele Hugo, daughter of Victor, is both the doomed statement of a young girl driven mad by love, and an ironic testament to the performance of a then 20 year old Isabelle Adjani. Francois Truffaut takes us back to 1863, with the American Civil War in full swing, and France and Great Britain still undecided in participation. Young Adele Hugo arrives at a camp in Nova Scotia seeking out her great love Lieutenant Pinson (Bruce Robinson), who she had embarked on a love affair with and whose potential marriage had been frowned upon.
What may have become a rather frustrating depiction of a desperate woman in love, Truffaut takes special care to create an air of Greek tragedy, as we witness the emotional deterioration of our protagonist, and her desperate pursuit of the unwilling Lieutenant Pinson. Adjani, simply unnervingly beautiful (seriously, how do the French keep doing it?), gives everything to the role. Adele herself, as depicted in the picture, is a time-bomb of emotions, giving every ounce of her strength into the tidal wave of pure love she feels - possibly a result of her father's grand romantic poems and novels - so anything less from Adjani wouldn't haven't done Adele justice.
This is a different kind of work to what I've previously seen from Truffaut - I'm more familiar with his New Wave productions. Adele H. is filmed in dark lighting, acting almost like a character itself signifying the darkness clouding in Adele's emotional torment. Victor Hugo's presence can be felt throughout the film, although he is never seen. Adele's story was taken from her diaries and the frequent letters she wrote to her parents, both of whom were concerned for her well- being. She attempts to keep her identity a secret, but friends are shocked when they uncover her secret, and the film works almost as a testament to Victor Hugo, a bow to his sheer immensity. But whether this is an ode to tragic intellectualism, or a human story that grabbed Truffaut's heart, I'll never know, but this is a gently haunting tale, and one that will make you want to personally open the eyes of Adele to the possibilities that are all around her, were she not so swept away by madness and love.
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