Friday, September 21, 2012

The Bride Wore Black

Based on William Irish’s novel, La Mariee etait en noir (The Bride Wore Black) is the story of a young woman who was tricked by five men on her wedding day as she swears revenge on these men. Directed by Francois Truffaut and screenplay by Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard, the film is an exploration into a young woman who feels jilted by these men as she goes on a journey of vengeance. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Charles Denner, Alexandra Stewart, Michel Bouquet, Michael Lonsdale, Claude Rich, and Jean-Claude Brialy. La Mariee etait en noir is a fascinating film from Francois Truffaut.

The film is essentially the story of this woman named Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau) who loses her husband David (Serge Rousseau) on their wedding day when he got shot a stray bullet. Distraught over her loss and wanting to know what happened, she learned that five men were involved in the death of her husband as she decides to track them down and kill them. Among these men is an engaged bachelor named Bliss (Claude Rich), a lonely man named Coral (Michel Bouquet), a family man named Morane (Michael Lonsdale), a criminal named Delvaux (Daniel Boulanger), and an artist named Fergus (Charles Denner). Julie would meet them and then find ways to kill them as she later contends with guilt as the truth is revealed into why her husband was killed.

The screenplay by Francois Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard does have a unique structure in how Julie would plan these meetings with these men as she takes her time to meet them, take them off guard, and kill them when the time is right. At first, she has no sense of moral implication as she is just intent on seeking vengeance for her loss. By the time she meets Morane in the second act where some revelations are revealed about what happened, things eventually get more complicated as she becomes confused. This would lead to a third act where she goes after the remaining two men but there are things that would eventually complicate matters as she still intends to fulfill her desire for vengeance. While there’s a lot of sympathy for what Julie is doing despite her actions. The script also allows the chance for the five men to kind of explain themselves as most of them aren’t really bad people.

Truffaut’s direction is definitely stylized in terms of the compositions and set-ups that he creates. A lot of it is inspired by some of the visual tricks of Alfred Hitchcock from the use of flashbacks to the way the suspense is build up. Truffaut’s framing and the way he has his actors positioned in a frame allows him to create startling moments where Julie would make her move to meet her target and then kill him. By the time she continues her journey, Truffaut would loosen things up a bit with the images to let things be a bit more playful but maintain that air of suspense. Even as things finally intensify in the third act where Truffaut is slowly trying to see how Julie will continue her path of vengeance that would lead to a surprising yet fulfilling climax. Overall, Truffaut crafts a very engaging yet enjoyable thriller about vengeance.

Cinematographer Raoul Coutard does superb work with the cinematography to display the colorful look of the locations as well as the interiors that includes the art studio that Fergus has. Editor Claudine Bouche does excellent work with stylized editing with the use of dissolves and montages to play out some of the film‘s playful moments along with transitional fade-outs to help set the structure. Production designer Pierre Guffroy does nice work with the set pieces that includes the art studio run by Fergus. The sound work of Rene Levert is terrific for the atmosphere that is created in the intimate moments between Julie and her targets. The film’s music by Bernard Herrmann is brilliant for its thrilling score that plays to soaring orchestral arrangements that is true to the spirit of Hitchcock. Even as the soundtrack features pieces by Antonio Vivaldi including a record that Julie likes to play.

The film’s ensemble cast consists of appearances from Serge Rousseau as the ill-fated husband David, Alexandra Stewart as the teacher Miss Becker whom Julie pretends to be, Christophe Bruno as Morane’s son Cookie, and Jean-Claude Brialy as Bliss and Fergus’ friend Corey who would help drive the film’s third act with his own suspicions. In the roles of the five men, Daniel Boulanger is very good as the shady criminal Delvaux. Michael Lonsdale is excellent as the family man Morane while Charles Denner is great as the charming artist Fergus. Claude Rich is cool as the suave ladies man Bliss while Michel Bouquet is terrific as kind Coral. Finally, there’s Jeanne Moreau in an incredible performance as Julie Kohler as she displays an air of radiance in her presence as well as complexity to a woman seeking vengeance only to realize how complicated it becomes.

La Mariee etait en noir is a riveting yet suspenseful from Francois Truffaut that features a brilliant performance from Jeanne Moreau. The film is not just a captivating thriller but also a great tribute to the works of Alfred Hitchcock. It’s also a film that plays with the conventions of suspense as it allows to follow a character that wants justice for what happened. In the end, La Mariee etait en noir is a marvelous film from Francois Truffaut.

Francois Truffaut Films: The 400 Blows - Shoot the Piano Player - Jules & Jim - Antoine & Colette - The Soft Skin - Fahrenheit 451 - Stolen Kisses - Mississippi Mermaid - The Wild Child - Bed and Board - Two English Girls - Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me - Day for Night - The Story of Adele H. - Small Change - The Man Who Loved Women - The Green Room - Love on the Run - The Last Metro - The Woman Next Door - Confidentially Yours

(The Auteurs #40: Francois Truffaut: (Pt. 1) - (Pt. 2))

© thevoid99 2012

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