Monday, February 22, 2010

Diabolique (1955)

This classic suspense thriller offers all of the character and drive of Hitchcock's later masterpieces with its own unique look and feel. A woman and her husband's mistress plot to kill the man that has been oppressing each of them, but suspicions mount after the corpse of their drowned lover disappears from the pool where they planted the body. Was Michel really dead, or has someone discovered their deadly secret? Clouzot delivers a visually stunning film with fluid camera movements and inventive tracking shots. The flawed character of Christine is built in such a way that it is impossible to find fault in her actions, especially after she is beaten by her dominating husband while trying to slap a poisoned drink from his hand in a moment of fear and doubt. A recurring mirror motif constantly reflects Christine's guilt, as she is the only character to have her image cast back repeatedly throughout the film. Signoret plays Nicole as an emotionless and robotic femme fatale, however her cold demeanor and actions along with the impossible appearances of M. Delassalle after the disappearance of the body lead to an all too predictable end. The slow and methodical build is expertly handled, and only further strengthened by an excellent cast. Hitchcock fans will find everything to love in DIABOLIQUE, even if it falls just short of a perfect film.

Rating: 9/10.
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5 comments:

  1. Sounds fun. How have I missed this one?

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  2. 9/10? Really? I saw this at the cinema a couple of weeks ago and I have to say I found it rather boring!

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  3. Many of Hitchcock's films are extremely slow and rely solely on the characters as well; THE BIRDS has very little action the majority of the film, and VERTIGO is arguably much slower than DIABOLIQUE. When put into context for the time in which it was made, the technical filmmaking, acting, and scripting all put this one far above typical 50s fare =D

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  4. I always loved it. I'm not sure I'd rate it as high as you did, but I agree it's excellent.

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  5. I still haven't seen this. I'm pretty sure it's on my Netflix queue somewhere. Great review as always!

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