The film is set in Venice, in the season that most suits that city (winter), and is shot in director Joseph Losey’s characteristically baroque style of the period. Stanley Baker plays an upstart Welsh novelist who’s weighed down by an empty marriage and becomes easy prey to the ferocious temptress that is Eve (Jeanne Moreau). Love hardly enters the picture. It is corruption by power and money and bad faith that are Losey’s obsessions, and they are dwelt upon with an insistence and sense of distaste that are overwhelming. While both the lead performances are riveting and not at all what one might expect, the film undoubtedly belongs to Moreau, who provides a terrifying portrait of a heartless, self-possessed woman. Her unsettling, subtly tragic performance as Eve seems to carry an entire history of abuse and abandonment beneath a hardened, eye-shadowed exterior.
France-Italy, 1962. Black and White. 115 mins.

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