Friday, September 16, 2016

French movie Friday: The Bridesmaid

Claude Chabrol may be another one of those celebrated directors whose films remain beyond my liking. (There are a few others but with my woeful knowledge of such things I recall no names.) In The Bridesmaid, the central force of the entire narrative is the all-consuming and logic-defying passion felt between the girl and the boy. Now the girl, Stephanie or Senta as she calls herself, is presented upfront as a bit of a kook. The first time we see her, she's in a filmy blue dress the very color of innocence: she's the bridesmaid, though her steely eyes and staccato speech hint at anything but innocence. But the boy, we've been shown, is a fairly responsible, conventional, and dutiful sort, devoted to the welfare of his mom and two younger sisters. 

They meet, and sparks are supposedly flying everywhere: sparks which must have been so tiny that I missed them altogether. Soon after a few cursory sentences for conversation, they are meeting again; she drags him into bed, using the unimaginative but clearly-effective device of "I'm soaked and need to get out of these clothes" that led to the ruination of many a young heroine in our Hindi movies of yore. Philippe, her new amour, is clearly dumbstruck. He gets swept along in her icy, single-minded, and frankly, unnerving lust. That's not what she believes it is at all though, expressionlessly mouthing cliches about undying love and being meant to be together.

Then, she lets slip one of her real desires. And instead of alarm bells going off in Philippe's head, he actually plays along. Now this might have been to illustrate the fact that their sudden passion was  in fact mutual, but for me as a viewer it was excruciating. A character like Philippe was so oblivious to this very disturbed girl's mental state: was this a form of escape for him, from his dutiful life? But he likes that life and is even good at his job. So the only explanation was of course that we are meant to see the obvious and all-consuming devotion that is being shown to us.

Without going into the details, a sad ending prevails. (Apart from the lack of chemistry, there was also a side story involving the stone bust that used to be in the garden of Philippe's house. I could not grasp the relevance of this peculiar track to the story, and this annoyed me.)

I wanted to like this movie particularly since it's an adaptation of a novel by the astounding Ruth Rendell. However, I find that there is nothing that I can say to recommend watching it. In fact I was left baffled and a little sore with disappointment despite the likability of a lot of the characters and because of the attempts at mystery attached to Senta's character like a distracting tinsel crown. Perhaps I should just stick to my usual practice of reading the book first, and then attempting the movie.

Director: Claude Chabrol
Overall rating: 4/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written...one of the lowest scores you've given.

Beyond the lack of chemistry...were you intrigued by Senta's character? Was she compelling and believable or did her performance fall flat?

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