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Story of Women (1990)

Isabelle Huppert , François Cluzet , Claude Chabrol  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, François Cluzet, Marie Trintignant, Nils Tavernier, Lolita Chammah
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Writers: Claude Chabrol, Colo Tavernier, Francis Szpiner
  • Producers: Marin Karmitz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00026L7N6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,742 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Story of Women" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Scene commentary by director Claude Chabrol
  • Interviews with producer Marin Karmitz and writer Francis Szpiner
  • Director Filmography
  • Original French Theatrical Trailer

Editorial Reviews

From acclaimed director Claude Chabrol (La Cérémonie, Merci Pour Le Chocolat) comes the compelling true story of working-class housewife Marie (Isabelle Huppert- The Piano Player, 8 Women), who performs illegal abortions in France during World War II, evading the Nazis, and betraying those she loves. Brought to life by Chabrol on actual locations, The Story of Women is an honest, original, and utterly absorbing film, which won Isabelle Huppert Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goes to places that Vera Drake leaves untouched November 11, 2005
Claude Chabrol's Une Affaire de Femmes/Story of Women, based on a real-life miscarriage of justice, is a surprisingly even-handed film that steps aside from cheap emotionalism to present the good, the bad and the ugly sides of its abortionist protagonist without resorting to easy judgements a la Mike Leigh and Vera Drake. It's not a cry for or against abortion, merely offering the facts to the viewer to make up their own mind. Huppert's character is amoral in the purest sense of the word: she's not a crusader but a capitalist, doing favors and letting out her spare room to whores not out of principles but because she can make a good living out of it. More than that, she enjoys the role reversal and power it gives her as she becomes the breadwinner, keeping her husband (Francois Cluzet excellent in what could have been a nothing role) out of the way and out of her bed while she openly pursues other men. Only once does she stop to consider the moral consequences, but the moment quickly passes and it's back to business as usual. One side-effect of this is that the film never moves you, rather it engages you, but it manages to do so on many different levels.

It's not really a film about abortion but about sexual inequality and the corrupt patriarchical 'morality' of the Vichy government and the way they visited their own sins upon the population in the name of redeeming the nation's surrender through eliminating 'moral weakness.' But in this case it manages to deal with multiple themes and a more convincing look at human nature - Marie is no idealised heroine, but that still doesn't justify her fate.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abortion in Nazi-occupied France January 3, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Claude Chabrol's stark and unsentimental masterpiece about the last woman to be executed in France--she was guillotined for performing abortions in Nazi-occupied France during World War II--forces us to see a side of war not often depicted. What does a woman with two little children do when her country is occupied by the brute forces of the enemy? How is she to find enough to eat, to buy the increasingly scarce and costly necessities of life? How is she to find joy in life? Women often turn to prostitution during such times, but Maire Latout does not. Instead she aborts the foetuses of the prostitutes and of other women impregnated, often by the Nazis. In a sense this is her "resistence." However she prospers and takes up with a Nazi collaborator. In the process she reduces her husband to frustration and humiliation.

Isabelle Huppert as Marie Latout is mesmerizing in a role that allows her talent full latitude. She is clear-headed and sly as a business woman, warm and ordinary as a mother, cold and brutal as a wife, childish and careless as an adulteress, resourceful and fearless as an abortionist, and unrepentant as she awaits the executioner (foreshadowed, by the way, by her son, who wants to be an executioner when he grows up). Francois Cluzet plays her husband Paul, and he is also very good, especially at rousing our pity. Chabrol makes it clear that both Marie and Paul are victims, not only of war, but of their divergent natures. Paul wants the love of Marie, but she wants only a man that represents success and power, a man who is clean-shaven, not the menial worker that he is. Marie Trintignant is interesting and convincing as a prostitute who becomes Marie Latout's friend and business associate.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Chabrol/Huppert August 8, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Isabelle Huppert won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her delicate performance as Marie LaTout, said to be based on the true story of Marie Louise Giraud, who was guillotined in occupied France as an abortionist and profiting from the earnings of prostitutes. Perhaps no other director presents Huppert as well as Claude Chabrol, which explains why he likes to cast her so often. He frames her sad beautiful face in closeup to remind us of Garbo, though Huppert lacks Garbo's exquisite physical and spiritual languor. Chabrol's spare treatment of the tale underlines the hypocrisy of the execution, rationalised under the name of "moral restoration of the State" when the French were actively collaborating with the German's persecution of the Jews. The narrative also has a strong feminist stance, since Marie is a passive innocent, who sees her actions as helping other women with unwanted pregnancies, and rents her home to a prostitute because she is a friend who represents a woman who was taken from Marie for being Jewish. In prison she points out men cannot understand what she has done, and all the jury are men. Marie's tragedy reminds me a little of Madame Bovary (a later effort by Chabrol and Huppert) since she has ambition yet is stifled by her marriage to a man she does not love. We forgive her infidelity since she is so loving to her two children, and because she even arranges another sexual partner for her husband. In response to the latter extraordinary offer, he expresses his gratitude by reporting her to the police. Chabrol gives us some clever forbodings - a goose beheaded at a fair, Marie's son wish to be an executioner, Marie being a singer, her husband's cutouts hobby. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a powerful and absorbing film about Marie Latour, who in 1943 was the last woman in France to be executed by guillotine. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lawyeraau
3.0 out of 5 stars Grim and relentless and honest
Grim and relentless and honest, this is not a pleasant movie. The central character has hit on a cynical life of illegal activities--initially, just to provide for her children and... Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by rwx
5.0 out of 5 stars The real story behind this film: French women did not want to raise...
Ever wonder why America has a problem with Pro-Lifers killing abortion doctors and there is not this problem elsewhere in the world. Read more
Published on February 25, 2011 by Cleo
4.0 out of 5 stars A look at pure evil through the guise of fractured innocence...
Two of the most important performances of the year that was 1988 were Meryl Streep's portrayal of Lindy Chamberlain in `A Cry in the Dark' and Isabelle Huppert's portrayal of Marie... Read more
Published on September 26, 2008 by Andrew Ellington
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
I wasn't sure what "Story of Women" was going to be about. It interested me to know that it takes place in occupied France during WWII. Read more
Published on June 23, 2008 by Randy Keehn
4.0 out of 5 stars Amorality in Nazi-occupied France
Set in France during the Nazi occupation in WW II, this is a multi-layered "study" of a poor, uneducated woman (played by Isabelle Huppert) who performs abortions on women whose... Read more
Published on March 7, 2006 by Bomojaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Story of Women
Huppert is riveting in the central role: neither fully sympathetic, nor completely loathsome. She won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for this nuanced portrayal. Read more
Published on August 23, 2005 by John Farr
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth seeing once, but leaves a sour taste
Despite reviews to the commentary, this is not exactly a pro-choice movie (the director is too subtle for that). Read more
Published on May 21, 2002 by Neil L. Inglis
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for Chabrol and Huppert
Isabelle Huppert won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her delicate performance as Marie LaTout, said to be based on the true story of Marie Louise Giraud,... Read more
Published on August 2, 2000 by Peter Shelley
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