29 April 2015 | Red-Barracuda
A pretty unlikeable story and main character make this one hard to fully get behind
The Pleasure Party was made during Claude Chabrol's strongest period, where he made most of his best films. Unfortunately, however, this is a lesser effort from the great man even if it does share some similarities with his best work. It's a marriage drama about a couple who have a conversation one night where the husband admits past infidelities and goes on to actively encourage his faithful wife to pursue other sexual relationships, allowing for them to have an open marriage. This they do but it backfires on him as he gets increasingly jealous of his wife's affairs.
The subject of infidelity is one that Chabrol covered many times in his films and here is no different. Similar to other works, the way the characters deal with news of extramarital affairs here is with not much more than a Gallic shrug, which always seems somewhat unrealistic. But then I suspect Chabrol was never purely going for realism and these infidelities were really a springboard to examine other psychological things. I think the single most differentiating factor comparing The Pleasure Party to other similarly themed Chabrol films is that the storyline and central character are very unpleasant indeed. Paul Gégauff, who also wrote this thing based on his own experiences, plays a version of himself and his unfortunate wife is also played by his real wife of the time, Danièle Gégauff. I really hope that this was not really a true representation of himself as the husband character in this one was a real low-life. Interestingly, several years later Gégauff was actually murdered by a later wife, so it does make you wonder I have to say
Offsetting the highly unsympathetic central character and unpleasant storyline is a typical Chabrol pastel colour scheme and a classical music soundtrack; both of which contrast quite noticeably with the content of the story. By the end of the film I have to admit wondering just what the message was and who we were being asked to sympathise with. An odd film but not one you would rush back to very quickly.