The Unfaithful Wife (1969)

This was a bit more like what I was expecting, although in saying that I’m still not sure that I actually liked the film any better… I found a review online which says the film plays at being a thriller without ever actually being one, and that strikes me as a not bad description of how this thing operates. It’s a family story again (heterosexual this time), nice couple (Charles & Helene) living near Versailles, nice child, nice house, nice life… as long as you don’t count the fact that the lady of the house is living up to the title of the film; when she goes to Paris for the day, she’s usually stopping over at another male friend’s place. Hubby starts to have suspicions and hires a private detective to shadow her, whereupon he obviously discovers what’s been happening, and one day he pays a visit to the other fellow. Needless to say this encounter doesn’t go well, and it’s at this point that the film really starts to behave like a “normal” thriller, as Charles has the not inconsiderable problem of disposing of the body and, you know, not getting caught in the process. But, I don’t know, it’s like Chabrol was indeed trying to avoid making a “real” thriller somehow, or at least try and cast the story as something other than a commercial entertainment… you know, cos Les biches was viewed even at the time as a return to “serious” filmmaking rather than just a commercial assignment, and it’s like Chabrol felt the need to make this a “serious” film too (as witness the not exactly clear-cut last third of the film, particularly when Helene discovers what Charles has done). I don’t know. Whatever, it didn’t exactly connect with me… and this is supposed to be one of his more representative works, too, which is not boding too well for the rest of this box set… gulp.

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