4 November 2016 | dbdumonteil
To give up what one has already......
......for some uncertain alternative ..
That's what the title means ...
The follow-up to Astruc's memorable " Une Vie" (1957),it had been a long time coming ....
Maupassant's heroine of "Une Vie" had no alternative ,even uncertain :her husband cheated on her and in the nineteenth century ,there was nothing she could do ;the husband had all the powers ,divorce - although legal since the Revolution and the Code Napoleon-was unthinkable,for the wife entirely depended on her spouse financially ,and ,anyway ,religion was deep-rooted in the society ,particularly in the aristocracy:the separation of the church and the state only occurred in 1905 in Maupassant's land.
In "La Proie Pour L'Ombre" ,which takes place in the present (that is to say 1961),things have changed :it's the wife (Annie Girardot) who sleeps with a lover (Christian Marquand) ,even though she's always depending on her husband (Daniel Gélin) who bought her a picture gallery .We may think that,since she does not love her husband anymore,she has an alternative :her lover is a sound engineer ,a job that would keep the wolf from their door,should they decide to live together.But you should not go by appearances: the handsome man 's apartment is bohemian ,he possesses an old house in the country ,he enjoys opera arias,he farms hens ,but.... He too is a macho man ,who does not want to share her with someone else :if she divorces her husband and marries him,gone is her new found freedom.And anyway ,is she so sincere? What does she like best? her hunk or her art gallery (which her husband ,in a chivalrous gesture, donated to her)?
The cinematography is painstaking and the three leads' acting worthwhile ,even though they often substitute professionalism for soul.
Conclusion (drawn by the male lover): is there a man who is more alone than a woman alone?
Three years had passed since "Une Vie " ,and La Nouvelle Vague happened for better or for worse ,depending on whom you ask.
Probably influenced by them ,Alexandre Astruc ditches his former "camera pen " style which spawned memorable efforts such as D'Aurevilly's "Le Rideau Cramoisi" and Maupassant's "Une Vie" . "La Proie Pour L'Ombre "as its follow-up "Education Sentimentale" finds the director succumbing to the Nouvelle Vague vices :hollow characters, loose screenplay ,"deep" "serious" "meaningful " conversations,self-centered persons who do not even realize there is a world outside.The preview at the art gallery is pure N.V stuff.
NB : Girardot and Marquand teamed up again ,cast (again!) as mistress and lover in Gerard Oury's third segment of "Le Crime Ne Paie Pas ",the very same year.