Directed by Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol is in
top form in this top-notch thriller--the study of deranged jealousy--based on a script by
Henri-Georges (Diabolique) Clouzot. Paul Cluzet plays the owner of a small hotel
who has everything--a beautiful wife, a new son, and a successful business located on a
serene lake. But then he hears voices and begins to question his wife's fidelity, which
begins a downward spiral into madness. With Emmanuelle Beart. Color.
From: "Julian Brown"
"The viewer will enjoy a stunning performance by Beart and all involved. The ending is so confusing, and maybe deliberately so, that the viewer will wonder whether watching the movie was worth the time."
"Many people who watch L'Enfer will be confused about what is reality and what are Paul's jealous fantasies. The first 35 minutes strongly suggest that Nelly has been committing adultery. Clues to look for are: running errends for herself.. Lying twice about the price of her purse. Tearing a stamp off an envelope before giving it to Paul. Supposedly visiting a sick mother in town who turns out not to be home. She calls Martineau, the guest Paul is most suspicous of, and tells him not to come back when she feels the marriage is in jeopardy. Extended lunches. Going down to the basement to check the fusebox the same time the bar man does. Beart's performance captures the character of Nelly in its full complexity. Nelly is unassuming, flirtatious, provocative in her scanty dresses and attire, and very carefree. In these first 35 minutes, Nelly seems to have her thoughts elsewhere. She never does see eye to eye with Paul, or make the connection between her actions and his suspicions. She has the mind of a child, and a child's tentency to lie without thinking. She is jealously possessive of a toy doll. There is a cycle in their relationship: Paul's probbing questions, Nelly's accusations of mistrust, his appologizing, and their making up. But in the final half hour of the movie, as Paul becomes more and more abbusive toward Nelly, breaking her down spiritually, we become painfully sympathetic for her and wish she would leave. Why doesn't she then? That is L'Enfer's greatest flaw. There is no clear resolution. But in retrospect, I think Nelly and Paul were both mentally ill - in different ways. Watch it, and be the judge, if you can bear the confusion."