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A STORY OF WOMEN

France, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol, one of the original members of the French New wave, here turns his attention to a story situated in the middle of the Second World war. Set in Vichy France, that part of the country which was governed by the collaborationist Petain regime, Chabrol tells the story of a woman who has been a mother for diirty years. Times are difficult and harsh, and the occupation has brought little happiness to their village. Husbands are prisoners of war, and as a result fleeting affairs are common; some women even flirt with the occupying forces. Marie decides to help a neighbour get rsd of a troublesome weight by selling her 'services'. Her husband, wounded in the war and now demobilised, is surprised by the sudden prosperity of the household.

Encouraged by the success of her 'enterprise', Mane helps things along even more by renting rooms to prostitutes so they can ply their trade. But, this is Vichy France and jealous whispers become denouncements which in turn mean death. It is decided that Mane will be made an example. In June 1943, Mane, now called the 'abortionist', is sentenced to death by a court.

A month later she becomes one of the last women to be guillotined in France.

A Story of Women reunites Isabelle Huppert and Chabrol who last worked together so successfully in Vioktte No&ere, a film with which this one bears a great deal in common. Chabrol is at his best, and Huppert is magnificent, in die role that won her the Best Actress Award at the 1988 Venice Film Festival.

The screenplay by Chabrol and Colo Tavernier O'Hagan is a free dramatisation of the case through which Chabrol composes a dispassionate and forceful portrait of provincial amorahty and hypocrisy (a Chabrol specialty). Of the many pictures in recent years devoted to France under the German Occupation, 'Une Affaire dc fem^nes, perhaps best captures the ambiguities and realities of daily experiences.

See also...

BLOOD WEDDING

Claude Chabrol's Le Boucher was shown at last year's Melbourne Festival, and he is represented again this year by Les Noces Rouges, (Blood Wedding). According to Chabrol, this is the last film of his ... More »

THE WAY TO PLEASURE

A kind of confessional realism is bound up with a fictional form in this latest film from Claude Chabrol. His regular scriptwriter, Paul Gegauff, based the story on the break-up of his own common-law ... More »

JUST BEFORE NIGHT

Claude Chabrol describes Just Before Night as "the story of a man who kills someone, and then finds out he himself is dead". In it, he created a psychological drama which begins when Charles, the ... More »

THE HATTER'S GHOST

An adaptation of the novel by Georges Simenon, the film is set in La Rochelle, an ancient township in France, where ... you have to pass through narrow, ill-lit streets to get from one shopping area ... More »

RIEN NE VA PLUS

Victor and Betty - masterfully played by French screen mainstays Michel Serrault and Isabelle Huppert - are an odd couple peddling one of the oldest scams in the con artist's manual. Checking into ... More »

VIOLETTE NOZIÈRE

Through the varied genres of filmmaking that Claude Chabrol has attempted in his prolific career — thriller, melodrama, fantasy — one concern has remained constant, his exploration of ... More »

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