Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Woman Next Door

La Femme d'à côté; Drama, France, 1981; D: François Truffaut, S: Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Henri Garcin, Michèle Baumgartner, Roger Van Hool, Véronique Silver

Bernard Coudray has a life that's a real harmony: he is married, has a child and a successful job. Everything would be just fine is he hadn't got a new miraculous neighbor - his former girlfriend Mathilde. She is now married to Philippe but not even after 8 years has she forgot about Bernard so they meet in a hotel and start an affair. Mathilde tells him she divorced from husband Patric and that she can't be stay with him. After a certain time, Bernard can't stand that anymore and unsuccessfully tries to win her back with force. Mathilde can't be without him and lands in a hospital. After recovery, she comes to Bernard and during intercourse kills first him, and then herself with a gun.

Directorial legend Francois Truffaut made out of "The Woman Next Door", his fore last film, an ambitious and subtle affair film, but a one which is visibly below his calibre: the story about Bernard's object of affection living next door is exciting and wonderfully simple, yet the rhythm is substantially inert and tiresome. Besides the always fine performance by Gerard Depardieu, the main virtue is actress Fanny Ardant who has some sort of a charm that even when she narcissisticly smiles she still turns out to be sympathetic and amiable, like in the scene where she rips her dress in the garden in front of other guests but just smiles anyway. Demanding, but not especially clever, this film deserves cultural value and is more intended for viewers with tragic affinity.


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