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cacb3995's Movie Reviews (15)

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Diabolique ( diaboliques, Les ) 
French Thriller at its diabolical finest
3/4 stars

The aptly dubbed “french Hitchcock” Henri-Georges Clouzot delivers his most unforgettable film, the devilishly twisty and heart-pounding thrilling Les Diaboliques (1954). The story revolves around Christine Delasalle (Véra Clouzot), who owns a boarding school on the outskirts of Paris, her husband Michel (Paul Meurisse), and his mistress Nicole (Simone Signoret), who also works at the school. Tired of Michel’s abuses, Christine and Nicole come together to contort a plan to get rid of Michel. When things don’t go exactly as planned, suspicion and paranoia start taking a toll on both women’s psyche.

This film is a classic of french (horror) cinema, and rightly so. This psychological thriller has all the ingridients to be one of the most remembered suspenses movies of all time. Clouzot directs masterfully a tale of deceipt and conspiracy, handling the tension in a way that would make his british counterpart (Hitchcock, of course) very proud. The way the exposition is delivered, the manner in which the motivations of each character is laid down, the noiresque lighting by Armand Thirard, this film is an exercise on subtlety. While at first beginning quite slow and almost unconsequential, once the film picks up pace it becomes a rapid roller coaster of unexpected turns, as fiendlish as the title itself. Praise must be given to the main actresses, Simone Signoret and Véra Clpuzot (who was married to the director at the time), the dynamic between the two women being where the film gains its main strength. Though, I must say, this particular aspect of the film could have been deeplier explored.

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