Eye For Film >> Movies >> La Femme Infidele (1969) Film Review
Claude Chabrol is one of France's most celebrated directors, having a unique eye for emotional detail and a simplistic style with which he controls the dramatic storylines of his films. La Femme Infidele is widely renowned as one of his finest psychological thrillers from his prime time in the late Sixties/early Seventies.
It is a well known story: man loves woman, woman loves man, woman maybe loves other man, other man isn't sure either ... you know the rest.
Charles Desvallees (Michel Bouquet) is extremely suspicious that his wife (Stephane Audran) is being unfaithful and so hires a private detective. Once his fears are confirmed, he turns up at the lover Victor Pegala's (Maurice Ronet) apartment to meet the man his wife has been sleeping with.
"Confront" is the wrong word in this context. Charles seems all too calm and collected, as he proceeds to have a friendly conversation with Victor, but the utter devastation burning in the betrayed husband's eyes slowly gets the better of him.
The tension sustained throughout the film is exceptional. Alfred Hitchcock is said to be Chabrol's main role model and you can sense his influence everywhere. La Femme Infidele is quiet and sedated, when all is seemingly normal, but then the sinister familiar violins and twisting piano melodies creep up to warn you not to look away.
There is a masterful atmosphere that shrouds expectation and the slightly blurred glow of the cinematography adds to the tension. Chabrol tends to ramble in his real time scenes and, while this adds to the realistic simplicity of the film, it taxes the viewer's concentration after one too many let's-walk-over-here shots.
The performances, however, are what make La Femme Infidele so memorable, with superb, honest portrayals of complex characters.
A clever script and outstanding acting rates this one to watch, but the lethargic pace and anticlimactic ending might be a problem for some.Reviewed on: 10 Apr 2006