Boileau-Narcejac's novels are deceptive:it is hard to make a truly bad film from them while being harder still to really succeed.Theirs is the victim's detective story,their permanent feature not only in the present work "les victimes" .It 's always the story of a hero being framed (generally a man) ,and what lies beneath is often "cherchez la femme" .Two directors brilliantly succeeded in adapting Boileau-Narcejac:of course Alfred Hitchcock who turned "d'entre les morts" into "vertigo" and Henri-Georges Clouzot who made "Diabolique" out of "celle qui n'était plus" .Both completely rewrote the novels and transcended them while keeping the writers' s suspense.It is proof positive that these Boileau-Narcejac novels ,which are much fun to read (I'm a fan)need something else , a good scriptwriter when transferred to the screen.And a good cast does not hurt either -see Hitchcock and Clouzot-.
"les victimes" lacks almost everything:while it holds water on the paper it needs something else on the screen.Directing is ineffective and is almost unable to generate true fear.What 's worst is this inability to use the North Africa landscapes.Also handicapped by an undistinguished cast (whereas the two masterpieces I mention above had James Stewart,Kim Novak,Simone Signoret etc)with a wooden Jacques Dutronc as the worst of them all.
Man (Lindon) in love with a married woman(Viard) leaves for North Africa to meet the hubby(Dutronc) -he pretends he wants to write a book about his architect work.Super!The wife is to come too.But alas,when she arrives,it's not THE woman he knows and loves.What do you suppose THAT means? We are still waiting for a third director who could do another masterpiece from a Boileau-Narcejac novel.
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