Tuesday, August 16, 2011

La Femme d'à côté / The Woman Next Door

Kohtalokas nainen / Kvinnan i huset bredvid. FR 1981. PC: Les Films du Carrosse / TF 1 Films Production. P: Jean-François Lentretien. D: François Truffaut. SC: François Truffaut, Suzanne Schiffman, Jean Aurel. DP: William Lubtchansky. AD: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko. M: Georges Delerue. ED: Martine Barraqué, Marie-Aimée Debril. Loc: Grenoble. Cast: Gérard Depardieu (Bernard Coudray), Fanny Ardant (Mathilde Bouchard), Henri Garcin (Philippe Bouchard), Michèle Baumgartner (Arlette Coudray), Véronique Silver (Mme Odile Jouve), Roger Van Hool (Roland Duguet), Philippe Morier-Genoud (doctor), Olivier Becquaert (Thomas Coudray), Nicole Vauthier, Muriel Combe. 106 min. A Nordfilm 1983 print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Satu Laaksonen / Eirik Udd. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (François Truffaut), 16 Aug 2011.

A love tragedy. Revisited the first hour of François Truffaut's penultimate film which belongs to the pièces bien faites he was happy to do in the final part of his career. The subject is familiar and eternal - mad love - and Truffaut's account is original in every detail. La Femme d'à côté was Fanny Ardant's breakthrough movie to the international audience, and she is surprising and convincing in the title role. Gérard Depardieu performs his character's change, his volte-face, memorably. As soon as Mathilde returns to his life, he becomes silent, earnest, and absent-minded. I like the sense of gravity which Truffaut conveys in this story. It is about passion which does not bring happiness. It is about love which has to lead to death. Truffaut's accomplishment is to convey this without exaggeration. The story is rooted in realistic everyday circumstances in Grenoble with many humoristic details and observations, and the contrast makes the tragedy stronger.

Georges Delerue's romantic music is essential to the movie. It has an affinity with the grand romantic mode of Bernard Herrmann, his Liebestod mode, but there is no imitation. The 30 year old print is ok but it was probably not brilliant to begin with, and has a slightly duped look. The colours are broken, with a brown ambience, and they seem right to the picture.

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