“Why should anyone just disappear?”
A business man (Michel Bouquet) who discovers his wife (Stephane Audran) is having an affair murders her lover (Maurice Ronet) while visiting his apartment.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Claude Chabrol Films
- French Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “erotic, subtle, meticulously crafted” thriller — one of director Claude Chabrol’s finest films — “fits into no genre” but “draws you in completely”. While it’s “deceptively slow at first”, it remains compelling throughout, thanks in large part to the psychologically complex performances by Michel Bouquet (star of Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Mississippi Mermaid) and Stephane Audran (Chabrol’s wife and frequent leading lady). Helene’s (Audran’s) infidelity is revealed subtly, without drama or fanfare — this is a “happily married” bourgeois couple, after all, who enjoy a good life together with their adorable, intelligent son (Francois Moro-Giafferi) in a large Versailles house. Likewise, Charles’ (Bouquet’s) “revenge” occurs unexpectedly — we have no idea (and neither does he) that events will eventually take such a bloody, fatal turn. Perhaps most surprising, however, is Helene’s ultimate response once she learns what her husband has done; according to Peary’s analysis, “Chabrol is stating that bourgeois life is so stifling, so oppressive, and so resistant to change or growth, that it takes no less than an act of murder on one person’s part to shake up things in a positive way.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Stephane Audran as Helen Desvallees
- Michel Bouquet as Charles Desvallees
- Maurice Ronet as Helene’s lover, Victor
- A chillingly effective portrait of a bourgeois marriage rocked by infidelity
Yes, as one of Chabrol’s finest films. Remade (though less successfully) in 2002 by Adrian Lyne as Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere.