In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.


Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne

"Hell hath no fury..." a French woman scorned." Or so this film would seem to be saying. Maria Casarès makes her second film appearance (after Les Enfants du Paradis which I will review shortly) as a catlike - and sometimes downright cross-eyed - woman who plots revenge on her disinterested lover, played by Paul Bernard. Jean Cocteau wrote the dialogue and it is crisp in that lyric, surprising way that only he seems to achieve. (Fortunately, no one falls through mirrors or becomes the embodiment of death in this film.)
Robert Bresson's third film shows only a few of those traits that would later earn the adjective "Bressonian." Despite this, Dames is a fine melodramatic film. I found myself applauding at the end as Agnès, the "tortured but innocent" cabaret dancer gives the ultimate performance to her tricked husband on her "deathbed." Other critics have said that she is truly dying and is completely innocent. I say she is a performer to the core and that Hélène, the jilted lover, is not the only savvy french woman in the film. Agnès is a wolf in sheepy clothing and gives a fascinating performance in order to win over her new and estranged husband, Hélène's ex-lover.

I've just given away the plot. Do forgive me.

Favorite Moments: Catface, ploy to get her lover to confess his disinterest, Agnes dancing in the apartment, deathbed scene.


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