Les Biches (1968) Poster


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jimmydavis-650-76917414 September 2010
'Les Biches', whilst not my favourite Chabrol film ranks among his best. On one level it has sumptuous cinematography on a par with 'Le boucher', another excellent score, courtesy of Pierre Jansen and some very stylish direction. All Chabrol's actors play their parts beautifully although Audran undoubtedly has the best material.

But what marks this film out and what many cannot appear to perceive is that it is not a meditation on class or a portrait of a 'menage a trois'. It does touch on those subjects, as do many of Chabrol's films, but this film is essentially about identity and it's destruction or absorption by another. Stephanie Audran's character is, put simply a VAMPIRE. This is humorously and beautifully established early in the picture when she first meets Sassard's character 'Why' on a bridge in Paris amid a Gothic mist and with Audran looking drained and evidently needing a new victim. Many have commented on Jean-Louis Trintignant's acting, arguing that it is bland or inexpert, failing to realise that as part of the plot he had to be 'consumed' by Audran and had to appear ineffectual. Compare Audran's extraordinarily vital, near superhuman character in 'Les Biches' to her purposefully meek character in 'La Rupture' and one can begin to see what a subtle and intelligent actress she is.

On first viewing 'Les Biches' some years ago I was mystified and like other reviewers irritated by the two scroungers Robegue and Riais. After further viewing it appears they are purposefully antagonistic and their apparently parasitic relationship points to them being Audran's familiars.

The raison d'etre of the film are the final sequences in which 'Why' ultimately escapes the fate of Paul and destroys Frederique by becoming her. So 'Les Biches' is essentially a nuanced and very stylised commentary on identity and it's struggle to coexist within a relationship.
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Fun and games
jotix10026 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Claude Chabrol 1968 film "Les Biches" marked a turn for the director after a decade, or so, after breaking into movies. Unlike other French film makers, Chabrol showed he was more interested in style over politics. The structure of this film seems mapped out carefully as there is no spontaneous moment in the film. Chabrol calculated how he wanted to present the story in his own terms. The result is a film that was ahead of its times in many aspects, perhaps in the frankness the director treats with the subject at the center of the story.

Unfortunately, we saw the film recently in the DVD transfer, which pales in comparison with the original way we saw on the big screen. Since the format is not the "letterbox" format, most scenes show only half of the actors faces. This is a film that cries for a better transfer because of the elegant lines Mr. Chabrol created for the film.

The film is divided in three chapters involving the three principals of the story. Frederique, a rich bored woman wants the beautiful young street painter she meets on one of the bridges over the Seine. It's clear from the beginning what Frederique's real intentions really are. The glances Frederique gives the young woman, "Why", as she has named her, have an explicit connotation hard to ignore by this gorgeous creature.

Things begin to change as Frederique and Why arrive at the Saint Tropez house. It's winter, so the place is empty. When the young architect, Paul Thomas, comes to a party at Frederique's he only has eyes for Why, but Frederique succeeds in snaring him. Why, in turn will begin impersonating Frederique in order to get Paul.

The main strength in the film is the superior acting Chabrol got out of all his principals. Stephane Audran made an extraordinary contribution with her Frederique. Ms. Audran caught the soul of this woman and stole the film. The gorgeous Jacqueline Sassard appears as Why, in a role that showed her to be up to the challenge her co-star presented for the actress playing opposite her. Jean-Louis Trintignant is the less interesting of the principals because his character is an enigma. Comic relief come in the way of Henri Attal and Dominique Zardi, a gay couple staying at Frederique's home.

"Les Biches" is a film to watch to see a master like Claude Chabrol doing great work.
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A true Menage a Trois
vogler2352 August 2000
Many films uses the "Menage a Trois" element to cause disturbances in the relationship between three people. "Les Biches" uses this device to completely destroy its three characters. A perfect psychological film, "Les Biches" is the ONLY film that I know where it doesn't use Menage a Trois as a facade, but allows the film to explore its themes of Jealousy and Obsession to a sensual and extremely disturbing effect. Not even Truffaut's "Jules and Jim" used the device to this extent. This film is suited for people who loves to watch movies that will make us think, rather than movies that tells us what to think. Truly a hypnotic character study on physical and spiritual obsession. Kudos to Chabrol, his lovely wife Stephane Aubran, cinematographer Jean Rabier, and the sensuous Jacqueline Sassard for their specific roles in creating a chilling masterpiece.
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Claude Chabrol :phase 2.
dbdumonteil4 August 2003
With "les biches" ,Chabrol entered his second and most fruitful period:the first one encompassed such classics as "les cousins" and "à double tour" but his formula began to wear thin in the mid -sixties with failures like "l'oeil du malin" "Marie-Chantal contre le docteur Kah" and the abysmal "le scandale".

Stephane Audran ,his then-wife starred in all these movies (roughly 1968-1973)bar two ("la decade prodigieuse" and "docteur popaul") and their spellbinding mysterious atmosphere owes a lot to her.

"Les biches " has not worn that much well though:at the time ,lesbians were not so common in the movies ,and of course they always had a bad end -see also Mark Rydell's "the fox" or William Wyler's "the children's hour"for that matter-.What remains today is not much :only the scene showing Jacqueline Sassard's trying to become the woman she loves by taking her clothes ,her jewels ,her make-up and her voice is still impressive today;what remains falls into the trap of triteness:the man who comes between the two girls ,the chic bourgeois life in Saint-Tropez under the snow,the two would be comic reliefs -who are not funny at all-....

"Les biches" is a must for Chabrol 's fans because it inaugurates his golden era ,which would give such classics as "la femme infidèle" or "le boucher".But the others can easily do without it.
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Enigmatic, absorbing, sexy, and even funny: one of Chabrol's best
gridoon20207 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Les Biches" must be one of Claude Chabrol's sexiest movies ever. Both Stéphane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard are gorgeous women, but beyond that, the way the camera captures their bodies, their movements, their smiles, their kisses, etc. is purely erotic. They are also pretty terrific actresses. Audran fits her role like a glove, and Sassard (who sadly dropped out of acting after this film) gives a performance full of understated passion. The male lead, Jean-Louis Trintignant, is easily the least interesting and developed of the three main characters, but it doesn't matter much; the story begins and ends with the two women. Audran's two eccentric friends / freeloaders in her lavish house provide some amusing comic relief. The film is quite unpredictable in its development, in fact for a while it almost seems like everything might turn out just fine, until you remember that a) Chabrol doesn't like happy endings, b) that poisoned dagger could not have been introduced so early without a reason....Anyway, this is an absorbing, beautifully filmed psychological thriller, and I think it's also a great starting point for those still unfamiliar with Chabrol's work. *** out of 4.
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A Sensual and Sexy Thriller
claudio_carvalho3 February 2011
In Paris, while crossing a bridge over the Seine, the bored bisexual millionaire Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) meets the homeless young street painter Why (Jacqueline Sassard) and invites her to drink tea at her apartment. They have a love affair and Frédérique brings the virgin Why to spend winter in her house in Saint Tropez, where two weird gay friends of her live. When Frédérique gives a party for a few guests, the handsome architect Paul Thomas (Jean-Louis Trintignant) hits on Why. She is seduced by Paul and spends the night with him in his place. On the next day, the selfish Frédérique visits Paul and seduces him. They travel together to Paris and when they return, Frédérique tells Why that Paul is going to live with them in her house. Why is disturbed and she secretly poses like Frédérique unsuccessfully trying to seduce Paul. One night, Why proposes them to get drunken expecting to go to their room and have a threesome, but she is unwanted by the couple. When Frédérique and Paul travel to Paris for an urgent business, the deranged Why follows them expecting to stay in Frédérique's apartment. But when she is rejected by the socialite, tragedy is announced.

"Les Biches" is a sensual and sexy thriller divided in four parts ("Prologue"; "Frédérique"; "Why"; and "Epilogue") and ahead of time for a 1968 film, dealing with themes like bisexualism and homosexualism in subtle situations. The romance between Frédérique and Why, for example, is never explicit but it is to be read between the lines through the glances of the socialite to her protégé. Why Frédérique supports her two gay friends is never clear but maybe she finds them amusing with their silliness. Paul Thomas seems to be only interested in Frédérique's money but his character is also not well developed and serves only as a pivot to the tragedy. The open conclusion is left to the interpretation of the viewer and a trademark of Chabrol. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): Not Available
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Beautiful period piece
DeeNine-228 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Les Biches is from the early middle period of Claude Chabrol's long career in film making. It is interesting but somewhat inexplicable. It features longtime French leading man Jean-Louis Trintignant as Paul Thomas, an architect who comes between wealthy playgirl Frederique (Stephane Audran) and her latest plaything, street artist "Why" (Jacqueline Sassard) with disastrous consequences.

Audran, who was Chabrol's wife at the time, sports spit curls down the side of her ears like sideburns which is apropos since her character is bisexual. She is a woman with a steely imperial manner who enjoys conquests above all. First she picks up Why, beds her, and then when Paul arrives on the scene showing an interest in Why, she seduces Paul and dumps Why.

The question is why? In the central scene (as far as the plot goes) the three get drunk with seemingly obvious intent only to have Frederique nix the menage a trois and shut the bedroom door on Why. Why, who has been desperately trying to look like Frederique, sits outside the bedroom door and listens to the drunken lovers inside and sucks on her fingers.

Obviously Paul would have gone along with this juicy arrangement, and certainly Why wanted it desperately. But Frederique is malicious and all conquering. Paul, who is anything but a heroic character does not insist on Why's joining them in bed not because he is madly, exclusively in love with Frederique but more likely because Frederique is the better catch because of her wealth. He is a cautious, opportunistic man.

The dialogue is sharp and witty but reserved and terse. One striking feature is the way the eyes of the women are so heavily made up. Clearly this signals a film made in the sixties. The scene in which Frederique hosts a poker game certainly anticipated the popularity of the game today. Interesting are the sycophantic gay guys that Frederique keeps around her château in St. Tropez for amusement.

The finish of the film is a bit of a surprise and really not that well foreshadowed. Also the title, Les Biches (translated as "Bad Girls" in English) is a bit of mystery. More appropriate might be "L'imperatrice petite" with the focus where it should be on the character of Frederique.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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One of Chabrol's better 60's efforts, a suspenseful, intelligent, and stylish drama
ametaphysicalshark11 August 2008
Although comparisons to Hitchcock are inevitable (and perhaps deserved), Chabrol's best films have an ethereal quality and a unique approach to the storytelling that's all his. In many ways, although coming in the late stages of what is considered by many Chabrol's transitional phase (which I sometimes think is a polite way to say 'Chabrol went daft on us and decided he was a glossy espionage thriller sort'), "Les Biches" is reminiscent of some of Chabrol's early films, including the ones which were key to the development of the French New Wave. There's a lot of that in this film, with its off-kilter approach and unconventional editing, a pleasant surprise coming after the glossy, typical murder-mystery that was "The Champagne Murders". This film fits perfectly with Chabrol the auteur's style, ideology, and storytelling method (focusing heavily on the characters), and it's nice to see him craft such a visually remarkable film after the disappointments that preceded.

Before going further into the visual aspects of the film I'd like to address the script. In short, it's great. It's the sort of thing that could have so easily been a heinously atrocious melodrama or a cheap skin flick (which, as the film involves bisexuality, is unsurprisingly how it was marketed in the US), but is so intelligently-written and well-developed that it works tremendously well. Most importantly, of course, the characters are complex and interesting enough to carry the first half of the film, before the strange relationships between the three main characters come to the forefront and Chabrol relentlessly builds the sexual tension and suspense all the way through to the film's excellent final scene.

The visuals are unquestionably Chabrol. The direction is highly controlled and the camera is rarely still, and even then a zoom is almost expected. With most other directors this would almost feel impatient and unnecessary but Chabrol is always able to use the technique to his advantage, using the motion evocatively and reflecting the nature of the film's events, and this also means that stillness can be used to great effect (as it is in a key scene in around the hour and twenty minute mark). The cinematography by Jean Rabier (Cléo de 5 à 7) is excellent and doubtlessly influenced heavily by Chabrol, who frequently favors muted colors, especially pastels, and understated use of sunlight. The choreography of the camera movement and those in front of the camera is of far more interest than the photography, however, and may even be a nuisance to some viewers as the movement of the characters is often very contrived and even unnatural to create a particular sort of shot composition. These scenes achieve a sort of gracefulness that ultimately works in favor of the film stylistically, but realists and naturalists might be upset.

"Les Biches" is one of Chabrol's better sixties films, a taut, suspenseful drama that should be approached without any specific expectations of genre or style. The characters carry the film, and Chabrol's stylish but sophisticated direction keeps the film involving and gripping, allowing the viewer a rare bit of comfort now and then before raising the tension again.

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Quietly Subversive Look At Sexual Relationships
museumofdave30 April 2013
American films are usually about someone coming in to clean up the mess around them; A good many French films are about people dealing with the mess that's inside--and in Les Biches (not only "The Bad Girls" as uneasily translated, but "The Does," as in fauns) director Claude Chabrol returns to his obsession with the sexual power that one individual attempts to have over another, and like Hitchcock, with identities that fluctuate as the situation changes.

Les Biches is a subtle and subversive look at two women, one rich and powerful and beautiful, and a younger street artist who draws "does" on the sidewalks of Paris, picked up by the elder to vacation with her in St. Tropez during the winter--Jean-Louis Trignitant enters as the token love interest, and quietly nasty love games ensue: Chabrol's early films do not seem to date the way most films of the 1960's do, and the only problem with this one is that is should be available in widescreen as some of his quietly elegant compositions have been hacked at the edges by some corporate type that should have known better.
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Perhaps the most significant use of slo-mo I have ever seen
pyamada21 May 2002
While the beauty and terrific acting of Sassard and Audran make this film seem to be about sexual roles, sexual ambiguity and personal and sexual identity, at its core, this is about a girl who is or becomes unbalanced, and once she comes unhinged, becomes a violent character from a Fritz Lang noir. The penultimate scene is transfixing, but the entire film is beautifully shot, tautly edited and exceptionally stylish and intelligent without calling attention to itself. As usual, Chabrol begins with a noir thriller and casual plot and transforms these elements into something else. Though not a common video, it is available on tape; please see it.
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Champagne! The artillery of pleasure!
lastliberal21 September 2010
If you are looking for action, erotic or otherwise, this is not a film you will enjoy.

It is a simple pleasure of color and emotion.

The plot is simple: A rich woman (Stéphane Audran - Babette's Feast, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) takes a liking to a poor young girl (Jacqueline Sassard). A man (Jean-Louis Trintignant - Z, Red) enters the picture, and friction results. That's it.

But, don't let the simplicity fool you. There is an elegant dance among the characters as emotional games are played. It is the dance amid the beauty of St. Tropez that is the pleasure.
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It grows better each time.
westpenn492 August 2000
The first time I saw this movie I liked it. The second time I thought Ho hum, the third time (OK I am practicing my French and I remembered this as a movie with a pretty clear sound track) I loved it.

It starts slow, a bit weird, but the intensity between the women works as the scene plays out and really starts to cook when they get to St. Tropez, but Frédérique is just too spoiled to know a good thing when she sees it and blows it.

Chabrol shows us just how stupid we can be when we don't know what we are doing, or just how much in love we are and how much stupider we get when jealousy sets in.

Stéphane Audran is just so cold and yet so vulnerable.

This one may get a fourth viewing yet, putting it in league with Chabrol's Le Boucher (One of THE BEST ever) and Casablanca.
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So elegant, so empty
taylor988510 January 2003
Chabrol had a habit in the 60's of casting his wife in lead roles; these are often the most forgettable of his films. Stephane Audran was used for her object-like beauty (her cheekbones are really striking)but there isn't much behind the mask. Here, playing Frederique, a bisexual rich woman in glamorous decors out of Vogue or Madame Figaro, she gets to swan around in chic clothes and give jokey line readings. To the cook: "Vi-o-let-ta, je te pre-sen-te Ma-de-moisel-le Whyyyy-eee!"

Thankfully, there is a story to be told, and Chabrol does that competently enough, although there is far too much time given to those two stalwarts Attal and Zardi, here playing gay musicians sponging off Frederique. Jacqueline Sassard plays Why with no discernible interest or ability; she's got a luscious, pouting mouth but no presence on the screen. Jean-Louis Trintignant, the boy toy, is as earnest as a Boy Scout, which is all the part calls for. This is not a serious study of polyamory, or alternative sexuality or anything else. It's chic, expensive and dead.
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Ambiguous but Pretty
gudpaljoey-677-71538430 September 2010
I can't help but think of this movie as a send up of the famous Abbott and Costello routine: Who's on First. The odd naming of the female character, 'Why,' who scores with the architect before her mentor is a perfect start. Why's on first, and the What makes it all the way home. The picture is ambiguous to a fault. Event the title is ambiguous. Did the film maker mean Bad Girls, baby deer, bitches, or just us girls. If it were not for the beauty of the female leads, the gorgeous setting of St. Tropez, the movie would be a total bore, about characters who can't show you who they are because they don't know themselves. The most I could make of it is that it's about a control freak who runs a menagerie of people for her amusement to fill an unfulfilled life until one day one of the wild animals gets lose to put an end to the zoo. The secondary characters, supposedly two amusing gay men, were so annoying that it stretches the imagination to see how the zoo keeper would have them around. Let's write it off as a travelogue of a hot spot on the Riviera.
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Beautiful French drama
The_Void4 February 2008
Les Biches is only the fourth film I've seen from 'The French Hitchcock' Claude Chabrol, but already the great director is becoming one of my favourites. Chabrol clearly likes to keep his films under wraps and deliver stories in a succinct manner, and Les Biches is another example of that; as on the surface the film is a rather tame thriller focusing on the ambiguous relationship between two (possible) lesbians, but underneath it's a strange and interesting character study exploring an unorthodox three way relationship. The first character we are introduced to is Frédérique; a seemingly wealthy woman who meets a street painter who simply calls herself "Why". Frédérique gives the painter money before asking her if she will accompany her back to her lavish villa. The street painter agrees and goes back to the house, where we meet the strange gay couple Robèque and Riais. Soon enough, an architect named Paul Thomas imposes on the girls' relationship, first romancing Why and later being seduced by Frédérique before moving into the villa...

The film makes homosexuality one of its main themes, which must have been fairly daring considering the time in which the film was released. The film stars two beautiful women - Stéphane Audran (Chabrol's wife at the time) and Jacqueline Sassard. Both women look great and their chemistry together provided one of the main reasons I enjoyed this film so much. The actresses' beauty is matched by Chabrol's cinematography as the great director ensures that everything about this film is stunning and a joy to behold. As is always the case with Chabrol, the film is extremely high class and the production values and acting are exquisite. It has to be said that the movie doesn't have a great deal of plot, and this has lead to a number of viewers labelling the film 'boring', but for me the visuals and implications of the plot were enough to ensure that Les Biches is always interesting. The film is not so much of a thriller as the likes of Blood Relatives and Le Boucher; there's not a great deal of suspense and it's not difficult to work out where the story is going. However, as a drama the film works magnificently well and Les Biches does come recommended.
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My homage to a great director, and his beautiful actress and wife
Artemis-931 March 2018
Stéphane Audran died last march 27, 2018. She was the fetish actress of director Claude Chabrol, and his wife since 1964. As an homage to her, I reviewed this movie again today.

Stéphane Audran was awarded the Best Actress prize of 1968 in the Berlin Film Festival, for this movie. The film was cut in different markets from the original 104 minutes to 99, 97 (in USA for a PG rated VHS 1980 release), and even 88 minutes.

«After seven years of rather paltry stuff, Claude Chabrol re-established his reputation with this elegantly enacted, cool, callous, and witty bisexual ménage-à-trois. It was also the first film in which Stéphane Audran (Mrs. Chabrol since 1964) was given a role worthy of her subtle expressiveness.» - Bloomsbury's Video Guide.

«This movie "proves that you can make a very sexy movie with practically no nude or copulation scenes. Yet the underlying sex drive is steamy and erotic.» - The X-Rated Videotape Guide, vol. II.

«1967 was the year of lesbianism in French cinema. Two films were turned with just a few months between them: "Les biches" by Claude Chabrol, with an original script, and "La Religieuse" by Jacques Rivette, upon Diderot's novel. Chabrol admits: "It was explosive for it's time. For the first time you were seeing a girl «taking» another girl... Be it the scene of the bathtub, or Stéphane's stripping, I never photographed below the navel: I always cut right in time! After all, both my does fell in love with a boy, and the most rich «won» him, what, as far as I saw it, was more immoral than a special relationship. Besides, to tell you the truth, lesbianism doesn't attract me; it only interests me as an abnormality. If a woman wants to have children, that is not the best way to achieve it..."» - Chabrol cited by Frank Deeth, "Sapho c'qui faut! Quand les biches envahissent l'écran", in "Le Crapouillot", nº 23, December 1972.

The original title sends a complex message. "Les biches" (French for female doe, the sweet animal a girl is drawing on the pavement when we first meet her character) is also French slang for "girls" in the way the British used to refer to young women as "birds", and the Americans as "chicks" or "foxes", with no derogatory intention. The Portuguese title (when the lesbian word was taboo), "As Rivais" erases the essential subject of the story, emphasizing the threesome of the story. The American title, "Bad Girls" adds an ethical judgement on the two women's behaviour that is far from what we are told about their characters.

Claude Chabrol was an upper-middle-class man, a bourgeois, and though he did not subscribe to the leftist agendas current in France in the 1960s, he was a permanent critic of the upper classes hypocrisy and disdain for the others. Some reviewers have pointed that the end of the movie represents the victory of the rich girl over the poor girl in their dispute for the man - therefore representing the usual, realistic triumph of the rich and powerful. Having seen many of Chabrol's films, I agree that in this one he was sending that message too, that we mostly missed for the blatant dare of showing, with taste but explicitly, love among women.
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Whys and Wherefores
writers_reign21 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Having recently seen two other Chabrol films starring his then wife Stephane Audran I thought this slightly earlier one would be fairly similar and I was as right as I was wrong. Certainly the trademarks are on hand - stylish settings, photography, behaviour verging on the obsessive etc - but this time Chabrol throws sexual deviation into the mix at a time when it wasn't as commonplace as it was to become shortly afterwards. A lot depends on Why in more senses than one given that the second female character answers to that name, but why DOES Audran leave a ridiculously large tip for a pavement artist, why does Why allow herself to be picked up and ultimately of course why do we care. Completing the menage a trois is the ever reliable Jean-Louis Trintignant and whilst it's far from a waste of time I won't be so eager to watch it again as I will Le Boucher or La Femme Infidele.
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Interesting but Unsatisfying
kenjha2 June 2009
In Paris, a rich bi-sexual woman picks up a homeless young woman and takes her to her villa, where she lives with a couple of gay men (not explained why). Despite Chabrol's reputation as the French Hitchcock, there isn't much suspense, or plot for that matter. It's basically a moody character study that is interesting enough but ultimately rather unsatisfying. Audran (then Mrs. Chabrol) is well cast as the capricious rich woman. Sassard is alluring (those lips!) as an enigmatic artist; the actress seemingly had a nice career going but retired from films after this film at age 28. Trintignant isn't given much to do as an architect that both women fall for.
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pretty timid stuff
MartinHafer26 February 2006
When this came out, the bisexual and homosexual elements of this film must have been scandalous. However, today they just seem rather tame and the writer/director didn't seem sure what sort of sexuality they wanted to explore. Yes, the two stupid and TOTALLY ANNOYING leeches that lived off the rich lady were obviously gay--this isn't really in doubt. However, the sexual relationship between the two ladies is pretty ambiguous and just when you think it's a film about lesbianism, they both suddenly show an amazing (and completely out of nowhere) interest in a guy--the same one to be exact. This seemed like a cop-out in a way--almost like saying "they thought they were gay,...but it was just a passing fad after all". So, the real impact was minimal.

Now as for the story itself, I just wasn't super impressed. While it is a little better than the many Chabrol films I have seen, this isn't exactly a glowing endorsement, as often his films seem pretty transparent--i.e., you can certainly guess how the film is going to end and the "twists" don't especially pay out. Overall, a very overrated time-passer and that is all.
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Darling Does.
morrison-dylan-fan23 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Joining in the discussion on French Cinema taking place on the new IMDb boards, I got into a really fun exchange with a fellow IMDber about the best titles by auteur Claude Chabrol. Having this title on the side waiting to view for months, the discussion got me in the mood for my 11th film from the credits of Claude Chabrol.

View on the film:

Revealing in a later interview that this was the title where he realised that in the murder mystery genre his interest was not in the solving of a case,but wanting to "study the human behaviour of people involved in murder", co-writer/ (with Paul Gégauff) directing auteur Claude Chabrol & cinematographer Jean Rabier display a crystallised vision, shimming in stylish tracking shots across the windows Why sees Thomas and Frédérique wealth reflecting from. Along with indulging in his taste for fine food on screen, Chabrol continues dissecting the bourgeoisie, in Frédérique lavishly throwing money at any problem, until Why revealing that her desire can't be paid for, with the desire being Why wanting to transform into Frédérique.

Including the lesbian sub-plot as an attempt to boost the box office, (the film ended up not being successful)the screenplay by Chabrol and Gégauff does sadly fit into the era of lesbian lovers not being able to have a happy ending,but the writers overcome this with a sharp exploration of Chabrol's continuing motifs. Wrapping Why around Frédérique, the writers brilliantly dip into Neo-Noir mind-games, fuelled by Frédérique's pulling Why along, as she embraces Thomas. Opening Why to an exploration of her identity, the writers wonderfully have her purity of love be grinned down by obsession of Frédérique, and the bourgeoisie gluttony of Thomas and Why.

Proving that three's a crowd, Jean-Louis Trintignant gives a very good performance as Thomas, whose lack of warmth has Trintignant freeing him up to be a vessel for Frédérique's passions. Finding herself becoming an outcast, Jacqueline Sassard gives an incredibly delicate, subtle turn as Why, with Sassard bringing out in her body language a deep love for Frédérique,that is left shattered. Stealing everyone's hearts like a merciless Femme Fatale,Stéphane Audran gives a fantastic performance as Frédérique, via Audran giving Frédérique a compassionate façade that causes Why's obsession to grow.
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Silly piece of French fluff
chiodoesque21 January 2016
Vacuous film. I was ready for a French classic and got a French dud. Talk about wooden acting, a sleep inducing boring plot, and marionette characters that evoke no sympathy or genuine emotion.

I've seen student films better than this. Normally, at least one of the characters needs to be likable. I'll give the cook some points for trying.

The two gay dudes were simply embarrassing to watch. To think a mature director could think their grade school shtick was humorous in any way, shape or form is astounding.

I only gave 3 stars because some of the cinematography was nice and the ladies were quite fashionable.

That's about the best I can say about it: a very trite fashion piece.
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Beautiful Adran; Boring Film!
shepardjessica-117 October 2005
Although I've usually enjoyed Chabrol's film and his (then-wife's) Stephane Audran's ice-cool looks, this is down the ho-hum trail from beginning to end (picking up a bit in the middle). Trintignant is his usual passive self and Jacquelline Sassard is strange and disturbing-looking with no apparent acting talent.

A 3 out of 10. Best performance = S. Audran. If this is supposed to be erotic, mysterious, and dark - it missed the mark by a mile. Beautiful French locales with extra supporting characters who serve no real purpose. Don't waste your time unless you're really a Chabrol junkie. Have wanted to see this for years...what a pity.
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lilaqueen7 September 2004
I don't like labeling movies with one word but I just didn't find any other words to say on this one. I watched many other Chabrol films, which I don't admire but liked and found some interesting things in them. But this one disappointed me beyond my imagination. I have to begin somewhere so let me begin with the story. Was it another criticism about bourgeoisie and telling us that the artist must be on his/her own instead of being a slave to bourgeoisie? Or was it about finding an identity in lesbian affair, there is no nudity, which was a quite a topic for '60's? Was it about commitment, passion, jealousy or the mortal love? I have to confess none of these convinced me at all. Second of all, the acting was ridiculous and the mood of the film was cold as ice. Maybe Chabrol thought that the climax could get warmer in Saint Tropez but it didn't help as well. (If you are looking for beautiful scenes of Southern France I will recommend To Catch A Thief instead with a brilliant story and directing from Hitchcock )Their acting didn't give the feeling of love, in fact any feeling at all. I patiently watched to get something from it, but the film ends with a huge nothing. I don't recommend this film to anyone, for me it is a loss of time.
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More than just Empty
caspian197825 January 2004
A movie is doomed when it does not live up to what is written on the back of its video box. When you advertise a movie of seduction, passion, and lust and than produce a 90 minute movie with empty conclusions at every scene that go nowhere, you get Les Biches. In my opinion, this movie of seduction is rated G. Bad, far from enjoyable, most of the movie is annoying to an American audience. Every character disappoints the audience. Neither one hasn't anything seductive about them.

Could have been a great movie, lost its chance, a passionless movie about passion.
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