8 January 2008 | The_Void
An excellent showcase of suspense cinema!
Claude Chabrol is sometimes known as 'The French Hitchcock', and while the two didn't exactly make the same type of thriller; it's easy to see where the comparisons come from, and both of these great directors are masters of their crafts! This is only the third Chabrol film I've seen, but once again I'm extremely impressed and looking forward to seeing more! Though I have limited experience of his films, Chabrol's thrillers to me are more brooding and personal than Hitchcock's; and while they lack the brazen thriller element that made most of Hitchcock's oeuvre so good to watch, it's made up for in panache and intrigue! The Unfaithful Wife puts its focus on an upper class French family in a big mansion somewhere just outside of a big city. We follow them for a short while until it becomes obvious to the husband that his wife's constant trips into town are a clue that she is having an affair. The husband then decides to hire a private detective to investigate his wife, and after having his fears concerned; the husband turns up at the lover's house with murder in mind...
The film appears to be so relaxed that at times you may wonder whether you are actually watching a thriller. But that is what makes this film so effective; Chabrol often lets his film settle, but there is always tension bubbling beneath the surface and the film is always intriguing, even when there is little going on. I won't spend too long talking about the acting and production values as obviously both are thoroughly professional and give the film infinite amounts of credibility. Most of the action focuses on the couple inside their big house and this benefits the film greatly as we soon get to know the characters. The central scene is clearly the murder sequence, although again Chabrol focuses on the build up rather than the actual pay off and the murder is as cold and brutal as it was obviously intended to be. The Unfaithful Wife is clearly a lesson in how suspense cinema should be; even more subtle than Hitchcock, this film manages to be constantly fascinating in spite of the fact that not a great deal transpires over the course of the film, and once again it's another great film on Chabrol's resume!