The Kimstim Collection: L'Enfer
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A picture-perfect bride and groom: Paul (Francois Cluzet) is charming and handsome and Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart) is beautiful, devoted and carefree. Both are madly in love and work hard to make their Eden-like lakeside hotel a success. Unfortunately, Paul can't shake this nagging feeling that Nelly is having an affair with a local mechanic.
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Paul's character is well thought out and well acted. I only had two problems with this movie worth mentioning. First, how stupid Paul acted at times. That is not to say there was anything wrong with the movie, or how his character was portrayed. It was in fact appropriate for the character and the movie portrayed it quite well. It is due to my personal likes and dislikes in movies. I simply loose interest in a movie where a character is acting this stupid regardless of the reason. Second, I found the ending confusing, you might say that I was having about as much trouble telling reality from fantasy as Paul. Of course that was probably the intent, so good job. Just the same I prefer endings where I know what happened.
A little off subject, but still worth mentioning, there are a couple things in this French movie which you would not see in an American movie. In one scene where Paul is watching a motor boat on the lake (and stalking his wife) there is a person on the beach completely nude. It is in the distance but it appears to me to be a teenage boy. He has his back to the camera and during the scene puts on a pair of shorts. He is far away and a little out of focus and I probably would not have even noticed except that this is one of the sequences in which Paul is being stupid and I was loosing interest. Also, in one scene when Paul and Nelly are talking, she is drying off their young son after his bath (he is about four-years-old). In this scene whenever the camera is on her, which is about half of the time, the boy is seen fully nude facing the camera. American cinema would not show that even though (or maybe because) he is only four.
When husband Paul (Francois Cluzet) begins to believe his beautiful, flirtatious wife Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart) is fooling around, his psychological demise is quick, and intense.
Chabrol brings us the story primarily from Paul's point of view, leaving many of the ambiguities, as well as the uncertainties of this tale to our own imagination.
From a script of Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique, Wages of Fear) written in 1964, Chabrol updates the original (Clouzot never finished his version due to failing health, he died in 1977) giving it the contemporary setting and dialogue, but maintaining a style of presentation consistent with the thrillers of that era.
I love this early exchange: Nelly: "You're following me, Paul." Paul: "Why would I, is there any reason?" Nelly: "No, but if you keep it up, there will be."
Emmanuelle Beart shows why she is one of the world's great stars. American audiences have yet to have the best of Beart, who's English speaking debut (Mission:Impossible) seemed uneven, almost clumsy. But here she delivers on all cylinders: a beautiful seductress. Calculating? Unfaithful? We'll see.
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Apart from this, in my view, one of Chabrol's finest efforts starring Francois Cluzet and Emmanuelle...Read more