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LES BONNES FEMMES

Director: CLAUDE CHABROL

FRANCE • 1960 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 105 MIN


Claude Chabrol made one of the earliest nouvelle vague films (Le beau Serge, 1958), but Les bonnes femmes, his fourth feature, is not only his first masterpiece but one of the finest French films of the 1960s. Misunderstood at the time of its release, when it was accused of excessive cynicism and bad taste, the film’s story of the lives, loves and dreams of three Parisian shop assistants serves as a framework for presenting not only a sharply jaundiced view of ordinary Paris and ordinary Parisians, but also a bleak vision of the city as Hell. The unifying theme of the film is the discrepancy between dream and reality, the inability of the young women’s environment to provide a means of realising their ill-defined yearnings. The women (beautifully played by Bernadette Lafont, Stephane Audran and Clotilde Joano) escape the boredom of their lives in different ways: one in a bourgeois marriage, one in relentless partying, and one in a doomed affair with a killer. Strangely tender and bizarrely funny, the film has compassion for its characters but mocks their tawdry dreams.

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