Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Claude Chabrol

REVIEWED: 11-17-97

Emmanuelle Beart, Francois Cluzet

This little-seen French number's title translates as "Torment." Or more to the point, "Hell." In other words, not your typical get-cozy-and-snuggle-up-by-the-fire-with-a-loved-one art flick. But as the film opens, everything is as happy as could be. Nelly (Beart) and Paul (Cluzet) are young hoteliers with a gorgeous country estate. Paul is the consummate host and concierge, while Nelly's stunning beauty and playful friendliness are worth the trip alone. But there lies the problem; it starts with a smile that lingers too long, a lost keepsake, or a few unaccounted-for hours... and pretty soon Paul is convinced that his wife is up to no good. By the time the picture ends, Paul has become hysterically possessive, and L'Enfer's cryptically French ending will make you glad you can rewind a few times to catch the nuance. The lead roles could not have been cast better, and Beart does better work here than in anything else I've seen. As a thriller, L'Enfer is a solid film. As a character study of the horrific way jealousy can ravage a man's soul, L'Enfer is not to be missed.

--Christopher Null

Other Films by Claude Chabrol
Ce´re´monie, La
Ceremonie, La
The Swindle

Film Vault Suggested Links
Ceremonie, La
Ce´re´monie, La
The Stendahl Syndrome

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