Original Title: Les Diaboliques
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller
06.01.2020: This review was first published on 03.05.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
Hello, welcome to Ulven Reviews!
Diabolique, original title Les diaboliques, is a French movie directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and released in 1955. It tells the story of two women plotting to kill a wicked man. One of them is his wife, the other, his lover.
World Cup Historic
Founded in 1904, France is one of the most traditional countries in World Cup history. It was one of the four European teams to play in the 1930 World Cup, the others being Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Romania.
The now two-times champions played in 15 World Cups, hosting it in 1938 and 1998, getting to the quarter-finals and winning the title respectively, and now winning it again in 2018. They also reached finals in 2006, losing in the penalties shoot-out to Italy, after the famous Zidane’s headbutt and subsequent red card.
Led by the then-teenager, Kylian Mbappé, France won the 2018 World Cup, gaining momentum from the Round of 16 onward, after a disappointing group stage. They left behind Argentina, Uruguay, and Belgium, before beating Croatia in the Finals.
Michel Delassalle (played by Paul Meurisse) is the headmaster of a school where no one likes him because of the way he treats people, he also beats his wife and cheats on her.
Christina Delassalle (played by Véra Clouzot) is the owner and teacher in the school, she is also the abused wife of Michel. The mistress, Nicole Horner (played by Simone Signoret), warns Christina that Michel married her for the money, and he hopes she dies so he can inherit it.
The two women were physically and psychologically abused by Michel, so they unite against the abuser. They plot to kill him making it look like an accident, before he can kill any of them.
Diabolique was inspired by the novel She Who Was No More, written by Boileau-Narcejac. The same duo wrote The Living and the Dead, the inspiration for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, one of my all-time favorites.
A respectable source material is a good sign, but that alone is not enough. In 96, an American remake of the film was made, and it was a complete failure in the box office, critics, and even the audience.
I can’t tell you anything about the remake because I didn’t even know that it existed until minutes ago. What I can do is tell you about the excellent original film from 1955.
The movie’s plot is near perfect. As a psychological horror-thriller, it has horrifying things and, it’s instigating, full of paranoia from beginning to end, and doubts with the possibility of something supernatural happening.
The film makes you focused since the first act when things are being set up. The second act is full of suspense, of the best quality possible, the kind that makes you hold your breath. Then, the last act wraps everything up nicely.
The two main characters are the most interesting. The two women are opposites, and this fact is made clear by their performances and even their appearance. However, there’s a lot of intimacy implied between the two.
Christina is childish and fragile, she wears light-colored summer dresses and braided pigtails. Nicole is a strong woman with attitude, she wears dark dresses that outline her curves, and even her posture is more imponent.
In their differences, they appear to have respect and even a certain degree of friendship between them. Their relationship is not distant or merely professional, there is more, but I’m not implying something romantic.
Then, there’s Michel, he is disgusting. A villain is a character that has everything to be disgusting but sometimes is for the wrong reasons. Michel is a good villain because he makes you dislike him for the way he treats others and for his motivations and ambitions.
I want to use an example of a detestable villain for the wrong reasons. Supernatural’s Lucifer is supposed to have an ironic and wisecracking personality, but he’s just annoying with a teen-like personality.
Michel is a good villain, while Supernatural’s Lucifer is an awful villain. But Michel is not a great villain as well, he is almost generic. Good enough for the plot but not unique enough to achieve greatness.
All the performances are well-rounded, my favorite, by far, being Simone Signoret. The less experienced actress was Véra Clouzot, who only appeared in three films in her career, all of them directed by her husband, Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Véra Clouzot was Brazilian, daughter of Gilberto Amado, a former President of the United Nations’ International Law Committee, and cousin of Jorge Amado, a very renowned writer. Clouzot died in 1960, with only 46 years-old.
I don’t know why she never played other roles, with other filmmakers, I think she was great in Diabolique. She worked behind the camera with Mr. Clouzot sometimes, for example, co-writing The Truth (not to be confused with Paul Pierce) from 1960.
The pace is faster than usual for a psychological horror-thriller, but at the same time, it’s not a fast-paced movie. In other words, is not slow-paced as Rosemary’s Baby, but not fast-paced as Captain Philips. I believe this pace was perfect for this particular movie, it accelerates and slows down as necessary.
Set in an old boarding school, surrounded by the woods and shot in black and white, the atmosphere was beautiful for the genre. I cannot see how the movie could benefit from being in colors.
Diabolique resembles Hitchcock’s best works. Maybe it wouldn’t please people who enjoy the more modern types of horror, because it’s very different from those. I, on the other hand, love this classic style.
It’s a beautiful movie. Dark, with great performances and a very well written story. I enjoyed it a lot, even more than some classic Hitchcock films like The Birds (from 1963). 9 Moons.