Review: Les diaboliques (Diabolique, 1955)

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Suspense with a bunch of French! Even though I shouldn’t have to say it, there are massive spoilers contained within, so if you haven’t seen this yet and actually plan on seeing it someday then don’t read my review.

Written By: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, Frédéric Grendel & René Masson
Directed By: Henri-Georges Clouzot

I was all set to come in here and talk about how Michel sealed his fate when he told his wife, Christina, that parents would stop sending their children to her school because he was dragging the divorce out in court and making it messy. I was going to extol upon you how clever a bit of writing that was. How with that one little utterance he ensured his death and if the audience wasn’t paying attention they would completely miss it. Turns out that line was even cleverer than I thought, because it didn’t seal Michel’s fate but rather it sealed the fate of Christina. Les diaboliques is a very smart and clever movie. When Michel’s body went missing from the pool I surmised that Michel and Simone were hatching a plan of their own against Christina. I immediately dismissed that notion as silly because I didn’t see how that could be pulled off in any sort of air tight story. Well, as you can see after watching Les diaboliques I was completely wrong. The story was air tight, the twist amazing, and the ending featured a bit of mystery as well. Les diaboliques is one of the smartest suspense films I have ever seen. The level of intelligence shown in both the script and the acting isn’t a common occurrence in a suspense film. But, Les diaboliques pulled the caper off and still left you asking questions. Very smart indeed.

My only real beef with Les diaboliques would be the sudden arrival of Commissioner Fichet to proclaim that Simone & Michele have been had. It is too sudden and too matter of fact. It lacks the punch that was needed for that scene to bring the movies climax to an end. That is the only problem I had with the film, because otherwise it was very smart, featured witty dialogue and some great acting performances. Alfred Hitchcock once proclaimed Les diaboliques the greatest suspense movie ever made, and I can see why.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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One response to “Review: Les diaboliques (Diabolique, 1955)

  1. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: Horror Bonanza! | Bill's Movie Emporium

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