Saturday, 25 July 2015

I've Just Seen: Les Diaboliques (1955)

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

What to say about this film? Well, if you haven't seen it, you should: right now. This is a film that should not be spoiled, especially since Clouzot himself asked his audiences not to tell people the film's ending. And what an ending!

This is a suspense story in the same vein as Hitchcock and Chabrol: a woman is spooked after participating in the murder of her husband. Guilt plays a huge part in the story, and it is no accident that Vera Clouzot's Christina is religious; Catholic guilt weighs her down, causing her physical distress. This is cleverly paired with the importance of water to the story: the body was drowned then immersed in water, then seems to have been resurrected from this deathly baptism. I had made a few guesses as to how it ends, and wasn't too far off, but I had decided to let the film take me to the end, and not try to get one step ahead of it.

Vera Clouzot's acting is at times melodramatic, but she comes into her own in the last half hour. Paul Meurisse plays the pig of a husband well: he is truly awful. Simone Signoret is the standout for me, playing the cynical mistress really well; she is almost the opposite to Christina, and reveals very little about herself to anyone.

The move from suspense to horror is well-handled, and there are a few images that I winced at. This is definitely a must-see film.


  1. The suspense here is really sublime and so is the setting.
    I have been wondering a lot about the role of the police detective. Is he real or is he super natural? How you given this a thought?

    1. I thought he was a real, though he did occasionally feel like he knew a lot of what was happening. Charles Vanel played him really well.

      A lot of detectives, in film and TV seem to have almost supernatural powers of deduction and knowledge.