Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Frustrated players: Audran, Sassard and Trintignant
LES BICHES (1968). Director: Claude Chabrol.

Frederique (Stephane Audran) is a wealthy Frenchwoman who collects and discards artists and lovers. She picks up a starving homeless painter named "Why" (Jacqueline Sassard) off the street and the two enter into a casual relationship with Frederique footing the bills and maintaining control. At her vacation home in St. Tropez, Why meets an architect named Paul (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and sleeps with him. Initially afraid of losing control, Frederique then begins her own relationship with Paul, which apparently becomes serious. Why seems content to live with and love both Frederique and Paul, but the couple may have other ideas ... With its frank, yet frankly unexplored (except in the most superficial sense), look at bisexuality and polyamorous relationships, Les Biches may seem ahead of its time, but by the late sixties even American movies were dealing with more outre sexual subjects. Les Biches does get points for being unpredictable and absorbing, avoiding the tiresome trap of setting lesbian against straight man for the love of a bisexual woman, at least for its main plot. Unfortunately, the characters of Les Biches are under-developed and not very sympathetic and it's easy to over-rate the movie. Two other characters are a gay couple who are underground "artists" and who live in Frederique's villa. Although they are not screaming stereotypes, they are irritating almost from the first, pretty much demolishing any positive statements the film may have been making about homosexual relationships, which it seems not to have been doing in any case, having other things on its mind. The acting is quite good and Pierre Jansen's distinctive and unusual scoring is a plus. The melodramatic wind-up is perhaps more silly than anything else.  Audran was director Chabrol's wife. He also directed Merci pour le chocolat and Story of Women, among many others.

Verdict: Interesting, but ultimately unconvincing. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Looks interesting, even though you didn't love it, seems like worth checking out.

William said...

I'd be interested to see what you think of it -- it has many admirers, although some of the comments on were pure hate, LOL!