La Femme Infidele

  • 1968
  • Movie
  • R
  • Thriller

Michel Bouquet and Stephane Audran give superb performances in Claude Chabrol's LA FEMME INFIDELE, a gripping and stylishly made suspense tale. Charles Desvallees (Michel Bouquet), a wealthy, mild-mannered insurance broker suspects that his wife Helene (Stephane Audran) is cheating on him. The detective reports that Helene spends her afternoons in the apartment...read more

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Reviewed by Michael Scheinfeld
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Michel Bouquet and Stephane Audran give superb performances in Claude Chabrol's LA FEMME INFIDELE, a gripping and stylishly made suspense tale.

Charles Desvallees (Michel Bouquet), a wealthy, mild-mannered insurance broker suspects that his wife Helene (Stephane Audran) is cheating on him. The detective reports that Helene spends her afternoons in the apartment of a divorced writer named Victor Pegala (Maurice Ronet). Charles visits

Victor and sees Helene's cigarette lighter, and so questions him. As Victor starts to brag about their affair, Charles picks up a statuette and hits him over the head with it, killing him. He then calmly cleans up the blood, puts Victor's corpse into a sack and dumps it into a pond, then returns

home to his son's birthday party. Helene is mystified by her lover's disappearance, but when the police interrogate her, she lies about their relationship. Subsequently, Helene finds a picture of Victor in Charles's coat pocket that would incriminate him in Victor's murder, but instead of

informing the police, she burns it. Ironically, Helene develops a newfound love and respect for Charles, although neither of them lets the other know what they've done.

LE FEMME INFIDELE is arguably the best of Chabrol's superb, Hitchcockian studies of guilt, love, and murder among the French elite. His masterful, elegantly detached direction and trenchant psychological insight create moments of almost unbearable tension and suspense, aided by Jean Rabier's

subtly sinister camera movements. Michel Bouquet and Stephane Audran (who was Chabrol's real-life wife at the time), give perhaps the finest performances of their careers. The two stars perfectly capture the deluded sensibility of their privileged characters in a satirical way without resorting

to ridicule. Chabrol has stated that he makes films about the bourgeoisie because "I am one myself--I know them and I hate them, especially their extraordinary egoism." In Charles and Helene's complacent world of decorum and insincere emotions, nothing must be allowed to intrude to upset the

balance and niceties of daily life, even murder. The film was remade in 2002 by Adriane Lyne as FAITHLESS, starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez.

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  • Rating: R
  • Review: Michel Bouquet and Stephane Audran give superb performances in Claude Chabrol's LA FEMME INFIDELE, a gripping and stylishly made suspense tale. Charles Desvallees (Michel Bouquet), a wealthy, mild-mannered insurance broker suspects that his wife Helene (S… (more)

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