L’Enfer (Hell) (1994)

by | Nov 20, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

L’Enfer (Hell) (1994)

Directed by: Claude Chabrol
Starring: Emmanuelle Béart, François Cluzet
Studio: Kimstim/Kino Video
Video: 16:9 enhanced
Audio: PCM mono, French
Subtitles: English
Extras: Selected scenes with commentary by Chabrol, Chabrol discusses
L’Enfer, Presentation by film scholar Joel Magry, Original French
theatrical trailer, Stills gallery
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: ****

Classic Chabrol though not exactly an original concept of the director
who has been referred to as the French Hitchcock.  The widow of
Henri-Georges Clouzot gave Chabrol and his partner the script of this
film on which shooting had been started by Cluzot but ran into
illnesses of the cast and director and other problems.  In the
extras Chabrol talks about how he decided to take a different approach
with the story than Cluzot had tried to do.

One of the director’s explanations in the extras concerns the
progression of time in the film.  It begins with very speedy
pacing, as Paul woos charming and sexy Nelly, marries her, they are
shown to be madly in love, have a child, and  work to make their
lakeside hotel successful. But Paul starts to fall into a fatal and
completely unfounded jealousy over Nelly – thinking her to be
cuckolding him with half of the men around. His inner voice speaks to
him, rationalizing various things he sees which have no reason to cause
suspicion but which he inflates dramatically to imagine all sorts of
secretive affairs going on.  Chabrol builds gradually to the point
where Paul is obviously in the grips of a pathological jealousy that
drives him completely mad.  Cluzet is perfect in her role – very
sexually desirable but clearly true to Paul. The only thing about the
drama that bothered me was the ending, which I felt a little too
confusingly suggestive and unclear as to exactly what occurred.

Cinematography of the lakeside environment is lush and the DVD transfer
is excellent.  There is good use of sound elements in adding to
the suspense of the thriller.  The extras featuring the director
are fascinating.

– John Sunier

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