Review

  • Gabrielle (2005) is a French film written and co-directed by Patrice Chéreau. It's based on a novella by Joseph Conrad.

    Pascal Greggory plays Jean Hervey. He's a very wealthy businessman. He's healthy and apparently happy.

    His wife, Gabrielle, is elegant and sophisticated, albeit aloof. Gabrielle is portrayed by Isabelle Huppert.

    This movie sounded good on paper, but it just didn't work for me. Partly that's because Patrice Chéreau is better known as a theater director and the film looks more like a play than it looks like a movie.

    Huppert is one of my favorite actors, but she's wrong for this role. We're told over and over that the couple has been married ten years, but Huppert looks closer to 50 when, in context, she should be 35 or 40. (Well, she was 52 at the time, and she has every right to look 50, but it's not appropriate for this movie.)

    Finally, director Chéreau uses strange and unnecessary devices. He switches from black-and-white to sepia to color. He uses title cards like the old silent movies. The characters talk and talk, but nothing much gets said.

    If a film isn't going to be enjoyable, it should teach us something. All I learned from this movie is that if you speak cruelly to your maids, they just have to bear it. Apparently, it's part of the job description to just endure.

    I didn't enjoy any aspect of this film. It's hard for me to criticize an Isabel Huppert movie. I thought she could make it work. Not this time. Gabrielle has a dreadful IMDb of 6.4. I agree with my fellow raters and rated it 6.