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||IMDB Rating: 7.5/10 from N/A votes
||Release: 01 Feb 1990 /
||Director: Claude Chabrol,
||Synopsis: Marie Latour, a woman of limited schooling, raises two children in a ratty flat during World War II in occupied France. In 1941, her husband Paul returns from German captivity, too weak to ...
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Based on a real-life miscarriage of justice, it's a surprisingly
even-handed film that steps aside from the cheap manipulative
emotionalism that riddles Mike Leigh's Vera Drake to present the good,
the bad and the ugly sides of its abortionist protagonist without
resorting to easy judgements. It's not a cry for or against abortion,
merely offering the facts to the viewer to make up their own mind.
Huppert's character is amoral in the purest sense of the word: she's
not a crusader but a capitalist, doing favors and letting out her spare
room to whores not out of principles but because she can make a good
living out of it. More than that, she enjoys the role reversal and
power it gives her as she becomes the breadwinner, keeping her husband
(Francois Cluzet excellent in what could have been a nothing role) out
of the way and out of her bed while she openly pursues other men. Only
once does she stop to consider the moral consequences, but the moment
quickly passes and it's back to business as usual. One side-effect of
this is that the film never moves you, rather it engages you, but it
manages to do so on many different levels.
It's not really a film about abortion but about sexual inequality and
the corrupt patriarchical 'morality' of the Vichy government and the
way they visited their own sins upon the population in the name of
redeeming the nation's surrender through eliminating 'moral weakness.'
But in this case it manages to deal with multiple themes and a more
convincing look at human nature than Leigh's one-dimensional Vera Drake
- Marie is no idealised heroine, but that still doesn't justify her
fate. The fact that Chabrol is surprisingly even handed and refuses to
take moral sides only strengthens the film - this is a filmmaker on top
of his game and with enough confidence in the material not to feel the
need to make special pleading. There are weaknesses to the film, but
they pale compared to its strengths, not least his unfussy and visually
economic portrait of an occupied nation in denial of both its defeat
and its own hypocrisy and weakness. As the film makes chillingly clear,
the defeat gave the French the perfect opportunity to take revenge upon
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