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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Claudia Coli, Thierry Hancisse
Director: Patrice Chereau

Director Patrice Chereau (LA REINE MARGOT) presents his take on a disintegrating relationship in GABRIELLE based loosely on the Joseph Conrad short-story ‘The Return’. Isabelle Huppert is Gabrielle, the bored but brilliant wife of the arrogant and rather dull Monsieur Hervey (Pascal Greggory) – a pillar of respectable society in turn of the century Paris.

The couple are childless – but in the eyes of control freak Monsieur Hervey happily married – secure in society and successful among friends at their weekly soirees. He feels he plays the role of a good husband to his wife as he has provided her with a respectable home and a station in society. She has gossiping servants to control, the evening’s menu to prepare and lively conversation to contemplate. When he finds a letter on her dresser which tells him she is leaving him for a mutual friend he is thrown into confusion. His world is shaken, but is it his vanity or her betrayal which has upset him most?

The conversation between the couple runs almost as a stream of consciousness – confusing to follow, and unclear in its purpose – probably much like attending a soiree in good French society at the turn of the century. Each utterance must carry some kind of truth, or witty remark – even in times of crisis. The costumes are sumptuous and the mood of the film no doubt authentic but any messages of truth about human relationships, despite the quality of its actors, is somehow lost.

3 out of 6 stars