Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques


Reviewed by: Moominkat

Dark and cool, with a lesbian undertone (the commentary tells us this was more obvious in the novel) this is a superbly tense thriller, very Hitchcockian.

A sickly wife and a strong willed mistress conspire to kill their sadistic schoolmaster husband/lover. After years of ill treatment Christina (Véra Clouzot) and Nicole (Simone Signoret) join forces, drown Michel (Charles Vanel) and dump his body in their school’s slimy swimming pool and wait for it to surface, but the days go by and nothing happens. Then the suit Michel was wearing when they killed him comes back from the dry cleaners, small boys start seeing him round the school and when the pool is finally drained, there is no body to be seen...

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This film apparently gave the term ‘film noir’ to the cinematic world. It’s not a straightforward thriller; it’s more psychological chiller, with more twists and turns than a rickety staircase. Ok, there are the obvious questions: who else knows and is threatening these women? Why? Where is the body? Will the retired detective who decides to investigate the disappearance catch them out? But we are also drawn into what brought these women together, how the dynamics of their relationship seesaw - a hard Nicole in charge at the start but as the story progresses weak Christina starts to take control.

The original film more than holds its own against the stylish 1996 remake (with Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani) which itself is not quite as awful as reviews at the time held.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2007
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Classic tale of betrayal, mistrust and guilt in a boarding school.
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Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Writer: Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Jérôme Géronimi, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Frédéric Grendel and René Masson, based on the novel Celle Qui N'était Plus" by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac

Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel, Jean Brochard, Pierre Larquey, Michel Serrault

Year: 1955

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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