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Les Biches

The Does

The film with which Chabrol returned to ‘serious’ film-making after his series of delightful thriller/espionage spoofs, this was also the film in which he began transferring his allegiance from baroque Hitchcockery to the bleak geometry of Fritz Lang. A calm, exquisite study, set in an autumnal Riviera, of the permutational affairs of one man and two women which lead to obsession, madness and despair. Each sequence is like a question-mark adding new doubts and hypotheses to the circular (as opposed to triangular) relationships as a rich lady of lesbian leaning (Stephane Audran) picks up an impoverished girl (Jacqueline Sassard) and whisks her off to her St. Tropez villa. There, much to the distress of her benefactress, the girl embarks on an affair with a handsome young architect (Jean-Louis Trintignant), only to find in her turn that architect and lesbian lady are in the throes of a mutual passion. Impeccably performed, often bizarrely funny, the film winds, with brilliant clarity, through a maze of shadowy emotions to a splendidly Grand-Guignolesque ending.

France-Italy, 1968.
Subtitled.
99 mins

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