Saturday, August 4, 2012

Capsule Review: Les Diaboliques (1955)

Like Psycho, a film that might possibly never have existed if it wasn't for Les diaboliques, time and imitation have dulled the edge of Henri-Georges Clouzot's masterpiece of suspense. However, even with an ending that most audiences will see coming at the half-way mark, the film has enough slow building suspense and fascinating psychology to thrill and entertain in equal measure. Wife and mistress working together to plan the perfect murder sounds like something out of Hitchcock's playbook, but the French surroundings and cast - who are pitch perfect - serve a much darker tale than Hitchcock would have attempted. The imagery is unforgettable, and the climactic sequence - with the ill Christina chasing her supposedly dead husband through the hallways of the boarding school - is still absolutely chilling. Re-made in English several times; most notably a poor big-budget Hollywood remake (known as Diabolique) starring Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani.

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