Les Noces Rouges (1973) – Rumour and Calumny

It is surprising how much contemporary French cinema owes to Jean-Paul Sartre’s play Huis Clos (1944).  One of Sartre’s more accessible pieces, No Exit is set in hell and features three utterly hateful and narcissistic characters slowly coming to realise that the ultimate torment is not only to be stuck in an unhappy relationship but to be stuck in that relationship because one lacks the ability to either leave it or change it for the better.  The worst hells imaginable, suggests Sartre, are the ones that we create for ourselves out of our failings and cowardice. Since the New Wave, French cinema has been dominated by what is sometimes called the “film d’appartement”, a film that is character driven and relationship-focused and which draws its drama from putting a bunch of people into a closed space and allowing them to work out their problems.  Claude Chabrol is no enemy to the ‘Film d’Appartement’ sub-genre.  In fact, you could say that he is one of the masters of the form.  His mastery comes from his willingness to not only put incredibly strange characters into his apartment, but also to allow his relationships to work themselves out naturally, regardless of how bizarre or brutal the eventual denouement.  Wedding in Blood is an excellent example of Chabrol’s approach to script-writing as it is not only funny and fascinating, but also merciless in its desire to turn a cinematic social experiment into a work of satire.

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