13 October 2002 | dbdumonteil
Before Agnès Varda,there was Jacqueline Audry.
...Probably the first important woman director France has ever known.Male chauvinism:her movies are very rarely broadcast on TV and her name is slowly fading.
She often adapted Colette's works for the screen,but here,she tackles Jean-Paul Sartre ,no less!It's the philosopher's most famous drama (with its immortal sentence :"l'enfer,c'est les autres" (= Hell is
other people).Audry had to cope with problems inherent to any adaptation of a play:she succeeded quite good by using flashbacks - like Mankiewicz would do for "suddenly last summer"-,and inventing a very brilliant first scene:Alan Parker might have seen the movie,because he uses the elevator in "Angel heart" (1987)the same way Audry did in 1954.
Most of all,she's got three convincing actors,two of whom are unfortunately forgotten today (Gaby Sylvia was essentially a stage actress and Frank Villard was cast against type here:he was the tough male raider type:but convincing anyway).The third one is none other than the great Arletty:after "les enfants du paradis",like so many others who "collaborated" during the occupation -her only sin was to fall in love with a German:she said afterwards "My heart is French,but my a.. is international!"-she was blacklisted and when she could return,she was relegated to small parts -but she triumphed on the stage notably with the part of Blanche in "streetcar named desire"-."Huis clos" is one of her rare leading parts after the war.She outdoes herself here ,playing lesbian Inès so intensely she's almost frightening and threatening.As historian Jean Tulard said "she was our best actress"
"Huis clos" is really interesting and will reward you if you give it a chance.Three people (alive or dead no matter)tearing each others to pieces.
If you like it,try "les jeux sont faits" another Sartre adaptation by Jean Delannoy