Tuesday, May 10, 2005

L'Enfer (Claude Chabrol)

This was supposed to be an Henri-Georges Clouzot film, back in 1964. Clouzot, the director of "Diaboliques" and "The Wages of Fear," suffered a massive heart attack four days into shooting, and the film was abandoned. Though Clouzot lived another 13 years, he only made two more films and never felt healthy enough to finish this one. Claude Chabrol bought the screenplay from Clouzot's widow in the early nineties, and made this effective, exciting thriller that seems to inhabit Clouzot's claustrophobic, doomed world. Francois Cluzet plays the owner of a resort/hotel who slowly goes mad when he becomes convinced that his impossibly beautiful wife is having sex with almost every guy in town. Of course, she isn't, but there's still something suspicious about her, especially when she stays with him even after he's gone violently insane. Cluzet usually plays nice guys and has a naive, sympathetic face, but he's surprisingly effective as a dangerous psychotic. Emmanuelle Beart is equally effective as his wife, a woman who may be as crazy as her husband, in a quieter, subtler way. It's easy to overlook the fact that Beart, one of the most beautiful women in the world, is also a great actress, and she gives this character complex, disturbing life. The film begins purposefully generically, a slave to its plot and visually indistinct, but grows more vibrant and loose as Cluzet's mind unravels, finally exploding in a series of hallucinatory, tangled threads.

1 comment:

kristykay said...

This movie makes you feel all creepy and suspicious inside. I think I get bonus points because right after the movie, I was reminded of "Diaboliques" (although I couldn't remember what it was called), and we later divined that Clouzot wrote this screenplay. The two movies are pretty different, but the same kind of tension runs through both of them. Plus they both have a creepy late night walk through the long hallways of a public building (one a school and the other a hotel). And Emmanuelle Beart is fucking hot. Insanely so. And yet also a really great actress.

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