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Gabrielle  [DVD]
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French art drama about the death of love and the end of a relationship. A well to do French couple, Jean and Gabrielle, (Pascal Greggory and Isabelle Huppert) live a well-heeled good life in their Paris home, their every whim catered by servants. On the surface, they are the matrimonial ideal and yet beneath the veneer, they live a desperate, forced co-existence, loveless and chaste. An anniversary celebration is marred by Jean's discovery of a note from Gabrielle saying she has gone to be with a lover. His world in ruin, he awaits her return whereupon the couple go back over the highs and lows of their relationship.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film is set in Paris in 1912 and the upper-class couple is Jean and Gabrielle Hervey (played by Huppert and Pascal Greggory). They live a life of exclusivity, holding lavish dinner parties in a brocaded world of seemingly impeccable comfort. But after ten years their charmed life is bereft of any kind of intimacy, even though Jean boasts that neither are in need of closeness.
No longer sexual with each other, and sleeping in twin beds, the arrogant Jean treats his wife like an object, intent to flatter her for her impeccable style. Gabrielle, who has resigned herself to an eventually loveless marriage, has now made gestures toward freedom. She's been having a secret affair with a man whom Jean detests and as the movie opens, has left her husband for him.
Mysteriously though, Gabrielle tries to reverse her decision and returns home, just as Jean finds her confession. Of course, he is shattered, just like the wine glass that he drops as he reads the letter, for he cannot believe that she would do such a thing. They both argue and bicker, with Gabrielle standing by her decision and forced to enter into a type of confessional about why she left in the first place.
Most of the story focuses on both characters' individual need to connect as they try to dissect their marriage and their reasons for being together.Read more ›
Suddenly she leaves a note to say that she has fallen in love and left him, but she returns a few hours later. He is bewildered, angry and distraught. His probing fails to explain why she has left him and, still more, why she has come back. After an attempted rape and his inability to respond to her sexual invitation, he storms out on her never to return. The story is set in the nineteenth century world of servants and lavish dinner parties, but there are really only two characters in the film. The others are observers rather than participants. Chereau introduces variety by alternating black and white with colour photography and background music with silence, but the rationale is not always obvious.
This visually captivating period piece is a gripping and efficient chamber drama set in a bourgeois milieu where French filmmaker Patrice Chéreau portrays a married couple`s crucial confrontation after a consequential revelation brings everything up to the surface. With stunning cinematography by French cinematographer Eric Gautier, production design by French production designer and art director Olivier Radot, costume design by costume designer Caroline De Vivaise, timely score by composer Fabio Vacchi, a detailed and well written story, an interesting study of character and astute filming, this atmospheric and close to theatrical tale about love and marriage stands out and is empowered by Pascal Greggory and Isabelle Huppert`s ardent lead performances.
Patrice Chereau's film, based in the Monceau area of paris, is an interpretation of a short story by Joseph Conrad, exploring the inner life of a bourgeois couple. Those who have read Conrad (his best known novellas are `Heart of Darkness' and `The Secret Agent', but for me the novel `Nostromo' is arguably his best) will be aware of his use of language, his employment of strict and precisely-chosen words, but chosen by someone whose first language was no English. They will see his writing style reproduced faithfully in the film.
Jean, the husband, narrates how he met his wife ten years ago. He tells us how, "I love her as a collector does his most prized item. Once acquired, it becomes his sole reason to live ... We have no intimacy, nor need of any ... I have no need for affairs ... just twin beds and two nightstands, and Gabrielle in the other bed." And then he sees the note his wife has left him on his desk, telling how she has left him; all hell breaks loose into his life. She, realising her mistake, returns only a few hours later. But the worst of it all is her return. She laughs when Jean says he forgives her.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The two leads are extremely good but this is an unsatisfactory film. It feels like a short story in every way, spun out to make just about a film's length (it is only 82 minutes of... Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2009 by Peter M