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Belgium, 1973 (MIFF 1974)

Director: André Delvaux

Andre Delvaux's Rendezvous at Bray was shown at last year's Melbourne Festival, and his new film, Belle, creates the same mood of eerie fantasy. A writer, Mathieu Gregoire, lives at the border of the Ardennes and discovers a young girl hidden away in a farm-house. She is nameless and he calls her simply, Belle. His affair with her is complicated by her resemblance to his daughter, and his hatred for his daughter's fiance.

One day a stranger appears, as young as Belle, and he seems to terrify her. Vainly, Mathieu tries to question her on the nature of their relationship. He realizes that the stranger wishes to compromise him and let ojut the secret of his illicit affair. Mathieu then suggests to Belle that they kill the stranger, bury him in a bog, and escape together. Belle seems very attached to Mathieu, but her relation with the stranger remains ambiguous.

From this point, Mathieu loses control of events. He provokes a public incident when he thinks he sees the stranger during a scientific conference. He arranges with Belle for the murder. But for love of him, it seems she has already committed the crime, and they dispose of the body, wrapped in canvas.

Mathieu plans their escape. His daughter is finally married, and he withdraws a large sum of money from the bank. His preparations complete, he visits the farm-house but cannot find Belle. She has disappeared, together with the money he had set aside for their life together.

”My favourite film in the competition (at Cannes)”

Patrick Gibbs, Daily Telegraph.

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