Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Unfaithful Wife

La Femme infidèle; Drama, France/ Italy, 1968; D: Claude Chabrol, S: Michel Bouquet, Stéphane Audran, Michel Duchaussoy, Maurice Ronet

Hélène is married to the respectable Charles and has a son who likes puzzles. They get visit from her mother who thinks that Charles gained weight. The relationship between the married couple cooled off and Charles even doubts she is cheating on him, so he hires a detective to spy on her. His fears are confirmed - she has an affair with writer Victor. Charles goes to his home and tells him that the affair doesn't bother him, but then suddenly takes a statue in his arms and kills him with it. He puts Victor's corpse into his car to throw it in the swamp. Two policemen pass by and question
Hélène because Victor disappeared. She discover Charles is the killer, but does not say anything.

The favorite theme of Claude Chabrol was to demolish the myth of the idyllic upper class society, and it found its way in one of his most famous films, "The Unfaithful Wife". Here he displays a bland relationship between a married couple, Charles and Helene, which re-gains its spark only after her husband kills her lover in an uncontrollable act of jealousy - in a bizarre-touching ending, Helen smiles as if she is proud that her husband still loves her enough to fight for her. Michel Bouquet is brilliant in the role of the husband in the drama, because the thriller or crime remnant of the story is too tame - in one of the great examples of good tangle, he goes to the house of his mother-in-law, he accidentally catches his wife making a suspicious phone call, following her in the car. The sole murder is rather overlong, yet the point of the story that was made, is engaging which is why this ostentative drama stands out well in Chabrol's opus.


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