“You took something from me that you can’t give me back.”
A vengeful widow (Jeanne Moreau) plots to methodically murder the five men — Michel Bouquet, Jean-Claude Brialy, Charles Denner, Claude Rich, and Michael Lonsdale — she believes are responsible for her husband’s premature death.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Femmes Fatales
- Francois Truffaut Films
- French Films
- Jeanne Moreau Films
- Widows and Widowers
Made shortly after he published his series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock (as the book Hitchcock/Truffaut ), this adaptation of Cornell Woolrich’s 1940 crime novel remains Francois Truffaut’s most explicit homage to the master of suspense, even going so far as to include a score by Bernard Herrmann. We’re plunged immediately into Moreau’s vengeful plot, as she cleverly lures two unsuspecting men into her snare by posing as the type of woman each would find most alluring; about mid-way through the film, we finally discover exactly why she’s so hell-bent on murder, as we see the most pivotal moment in her life (her new husband’s death just after their marriage) playing out in flashback. The remainder of the storyline continues in like fashion, with Moreau doggedly crafting new variations on her siren-like persona — which brings up the slightly uncomfortable fact that Moreau (looking somewhat dowdy and dour at 40) is not entirely convincing as the alluring femme fatale she’s meant to portray here. Indeed, while she captures the aura of “grieving widow” perfectly, she’s simply not stunning enough to be convincingly sexy in the way Truffaut apparently imagines her to be. With that said, the screenplay is clever enough to keep one engaged throughout (we’re definitely kept wondering when and how Moreau will finally be stopped in her tracks), even as it occasionally defies credibility.
Note: Film fanatics will likely assume that this film was an enormous influence on Quentin Tarantino when he was crafting his Kill Bill epic (starring Uma Thurman as an equally vengeful widowed bride) — but, amazingly, he claims this wasn’t the case.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A clever (if occasionally implausible) script
- Pierre Cardin’s outfits
No, though it’s recommended.