Friday, January 29, 2010

Diabolique (1954), Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Having had enough of Michel’s cheating and abusive ways, his wife Christina and mistress Nicole plot together to kill him. Their bond (and nerves) starts to unravel, however, when Michel’s body turns up missing.

Diabolique is a taut and suspenseful thriller. In one scene, when relatively cool-headed Christina has grown nervous enough to start pacing and the camera keeps pace, I could feel my own anxiety level ratcheting up alongside hers . While many modern viewers might not find this film terrifying by today’s standards, the last five minutes or so of the film had me holding my breath like I haven’t since Cary Grant carried a poisoned Ingrid Bergman down the stairs in Notorious.

Clouzot does a wonderful job using objects in the scene to underscore the tension between the two women once their plan has gone awry. From screens to the phones to lamps, objects serve to visually reinforce the split between Christina and Nicole.

And the closeness again when they begin to believe everything is going to turn out OK:


Rating: 10/10

Genre: Foreign/Thriller

Length: 119 Minutes

* You'll notice the big hit in the trailer is "Don't reveal the ending." I attempted to craft the review and very brief summary so as to give nothing away. It wasn't easy in this movie given the way truth and madness are a central part of the plot.

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