Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 3rd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: France / Italy, 1968
Director: Claude Chabrol
Writers: Paul Gégauff, Claude Chabrol
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacqueline Sassard, Stéphane Audran, Nane Germon, Serge Bento, Henri Frances, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi
DVD released: April 5th, 2017
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG (Australia)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono French
Subtitles: English (Non-Removable)
DVD Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 4 PAL (Australia)
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: A wealthy woman and alluring woman named Frédérique seduces as street artist who goes by the name “Why”. Their relationship quickly blossoms and wanting to get away from Paris for a while. They then go to Frédérique’s villa in Saint Tropez, for a romantic getaway. And what starts off as the perfect scenario quickly takes a turn for a worse, when both women find themselves caught up in a love triangle vying for the affection of the same man.
Les Biches was co-written and directed by Claude Chabrol who’s other notable films include, Les Bonnes Femmes, Juste avant la nuit and Les noces rouges. Key collaborators on Les Biches include, screenwriter Paul Gégauff (Purple Noon), cinematographer Jean Rabier (Cleo from 5 to 7) and composer Pierre Jansen (Le Boucher).
Claude Chabrol was key contributor to the of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) that rose to prominence in the late 1950’s. Other notable filmmakers who were also part of the French New Wave include, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.
His debut film Le Beau Serge was inspired by Alfred Hitchock’s Shadow of a Doubt. Thematically there is no denying Alfred Hitchock’s influence on Claude Chabrol as a filmmaker. And because of this influence Claude Chabrol has been often referred to as “The French Hitchcock”.
The film’s features a solid premise and the narrative is meticulously constructed. At the heart of this film’s narrative is a tale about obsessive love that build its friction through sexual tension. The characters are well defined and the performances of this film’s three leads are all exceptional.
The standout performance of these three is Stéphane Audran (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Blood Relatives) in the role of Frédérique. Her character is woman who has always gotten what she wants and when “Why” starts to drift away from her. She decides to inflict pain by taking Paul, the man “Why” is starting to fall for.
The most memorable performance of these three is Jacqueline Sassard (Violent Summer, Accident) in the role of “Why”. He transformation from a naïve young girl, into a women scorned, is utterly convincing. Also, she has a tremendous amount of chemistry with her two co-stars.
The most subtle performance of these three is Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, The Man Who Lies) in the role of Paul Thomas, an architect who entry into “Why” and Frédérique’s life causes a friction that drives the wedge between these two women.
From a production standpoint, there is not a single area where this film does not excel. Most notably when it comes to its pitch perfect score which superbly captures the mood and its striking visuals which take full advantage of its picturesque locations. Another area where the visuals deliver and then some, is when it comes the way it’s leading ladies are photographed.
Standout moments include, a scene where Frédérique uses two of her house guests to spy on “Why” and Paul. Knowing that she is being watched and what would make Frédérique jealous. “Why” then becomes more sexually aggressive towards Paul. Another standout moment is the film’s tragic ending, which provides a very satisfying conclusion to the events which have just unfolded.
Les Biches is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves it’s intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Though the source used is in very good shape. There are some very minor instances of print related debris. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well, details generally look crisp and there are no issues with compression. When compared to this film’s U.S. DVD release, this transfer is a slight improvement.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in French and non-removable English subtitles have been included for this release. There are no issues with distortion or background noise, dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced. This is a dialog driven film and range wise this film delivers when it needs too. With this film’s score sounding robust throughout.
This release comes with no extra content.
Overall Les Biches gets a strong audio / video presentation from Umbrella Entertainment.