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Story of Women

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Jul 27, 2004)
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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.

Special Features

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

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: #160,813 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Story of Women" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2005
Format: DVD
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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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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Format: DVD
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. A woman whose husband has been absent due to service for a period of time finds herself struggling to care for her two kids. Her struggle is presented subtlely and impressively. Once that stage is set, she helps a girl friend abort her pregancy and gets something of value in return. For a life in which there are no luxuries, she suddenly finds herself with a very nice gift for her help. This leads to more opportunities in her new found "trade" and a better lifestyle. In the midst of all this hubby shows up. The relationship between her and her spouse was the aspect of the film that dug the deepest. We are left to guess at their relationship before their absence and reunion. It must not have been much. The absence of love or even concern for each other further established the state of mind of this woman. She has our sympathy even though everything she does challenges our sense of morals (at least for many I assume it would). This works well as the movie nears its' climax. In the end we sense her as I presume the director would want us to; a victim of everyone including herself. That is what I took from "Story of Women". I was left pondering what to make of this person after seeing her through so many different shades of gray. The director, Claude Chabrol, deserves a lot of credit for walking a tightrope of judgement in which he balances back and forth between good and evil, victim and perpetrator. Indeed, our "heroine" is like just about everyone in the film; imperfect. The empathy that emerges from "Story of Women" is not an empathy or anger or injustice; it's an empathy of sadness and disappointment. In seeing how others go wrong, there is instruction on how the rest of us can steer in a different direction. That is the main reason I would recommend this movie to others.
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