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Friday, February 14, 2014

La Femme D'a Cote (aka The Woman Next Door) (1981)

When a new couple move in next door in their small town in the country, a husband (Gerard Depardieu) discovers the woman (Fanny Ardant) is his ex-lover from eight years ago. It was an unhealthy relationship that they were well rid of ... but it seems fate isn't through with them yet. Love makes you crazy. For some people, it's toxic. There are some people who don't understand this and the behavior it generates. God bless 'em in their ignorant bliss, they usually laugh at or are exasperated by characters like this. Francois Truffaut's next to last film turns its eye toward two people who should never have been together but their passion, like a cancer, metastasizes until it's fatal. It's not an easy film to watch, their behavior often makes no sense and their self destructive behavior affects not only them but those around them like their respective spouses (Henri Garcin, Michele Baumgartner) who deserve better. Truffaut has shown an interest in noir having filmed two Cornell Woolrich stories and a novel by David Goodis but surprisingly this film is closer to the noir perspective than those films. Ardant's femme fatale is much more complex than the simplistic fatales of pulp fiction. She's ambiguous and we're never quite certain how much of her is sincere and how much is manipulation. With Veronique Silver as a victim of love's insanity, 20 years ago she jumped out of a window in an attempt to kill herself when her lover married someone else but survived and has a crippled leg to remind her of love's malicious hand.

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