HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Biches, Les Obsession, Possession and Love
Year: 1968
Director: Claude Chabrol
Stars: Stéphane Audran, Jacqueline Sassard, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Nane Germon, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Slinky socialite Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) takes enigmatic street artist Why (Jacqueline Sassard) as her lover and they spend the winter at her plush villa in St. Tropez. Handsome architect Paul Thomas (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a guest at one of their swinging parties where he grows enamoured with Why, but after their one night stand a jealous Frédérique seduces him, only to fall genuinely in love. Increasingly hurt by their growing closeness, Why clings to the two people she loves until desire pushes her over the edge.

After early art-house acclaim with Les Cousins (1959) and Les Bonnes femmes (1960), a lack of box-office success drove French New Wave auteur Claude Chabrol towards more commercial endeavours, including a run of spy spoofs, culminating in his failed bid to woo Hollywood with The Champagne Murders (1966). Immediately thereafter, Chabrol made Les Biches, whose title translates literally from French as “the does” alluding both to a slang word for girls and the female deer street artist Why likes to draw. Sold internationally under the salacious titles Bad Girls and, as distributed by American drive-in king Jack H. Harris, The Heterosexual (!), its flirtation with Sapphic sexuality, bohemian fashion and the darker undercurrents of the lovelorn human psyche made for a significant critical and commercial hit, and established the definitive Chabrol style: lacerating psychological studies and piercing social satires in the guise of haute bourgeois thrillers.

Like other Chabrol films Les Biches revels in its surroundings, with the crystal clear waters of St. Tropez as much a psychologically reflective surface as the recurrent mirror imagery. The opening, sun-drenched, panoramic views of Paris seduce the viewer as artfully as Frédérique seduces the willing Why, but the unfolding tale is woven with an aura of glacial chic that both unnerves and stimulates. French markets bustle with small town life, but cloistered in the villa Frédérique and her achingly hip companions clown around with almost childish fervour as though trying to fend off their world-weary ennui. “I like collecting trophies”, remarks Frédérique of her African trinkets when she may as well be talking about romantic conquests. Impeccably chic and gorgeous, our leading ladies Stéphane Audran (still early into her role as Chabrol's wife and muse) and Jacqueline Sassard (ending her career on a high after notable turns in Italian dramas and costume romps, plus Joseph Losey's Accident (1967)) are each sphinx-like presences, their surface allure masking fractured psyches.

In some areas this is a forerunner to the considerably more shallow sex-thrillers that proliferated the Nineties, although its erotic nuances are implied rather than explicit. It’s all in a glance or a touch, when Frédérique slyly observes Why naked in a bubble bath or gently caresses her navel. When she unfastens the top button on Why’s jeans, Chabrol softly fades to black - which of course, makes the whole scene that much sexier. Though ever so slightly tainted by the sexual politics of the day, in suggesting lesbianism is merely a phase women go through until loved by a real man, there is a satirical charge in how heterosexual romance completely disrupts Frédérique’s unorthodox but otherwise functional family unit.

Although the scene where Paul makes love to Frédérique while Why lurks outside, pressed against their door in dreamy-eyed ecstasy, rates among the sexiest in cinema history, Chabrol is primarily interested in how his characters toy with each others hearts and minds without heeding the psychological consequences. It is hard not to feel a slight tinge of sympathy for the way Why is cast aside, even as she grows increasingly coiffed, bejewelled, and unhinged. Desire manifest in a transformation as unsettling as that of any special effects-wrought monster. The moment Paul wanders in on Why applying makeup by the mirror and speaking in Frédérique’s voice is a typically Chabrol low-key chiller. In Les Biches, love and desire are about possessing an individual utterly, to the point when identity becomes meaningless.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5323 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Claude Chabrol  (1930 - 2010)

A renowned director of French thrillers, he was one of the originators of the French New Wave of the fifties and sixties, often concentrating on middle class characters going through crises that led to murder, and made around fifty of these films in his long career. Starting with Le Beau Serge in 1958, he went on to direct such respected efforts as Les Cousins, The Champagne Murders, Les Biches, This Man Must Die, Le Boucher, Blood Relatives, Poulet au Vinaigre, a version of Madame Bovary with frequent star Isabelle Huppert, L'enfer, La Ceremonie, The Girl Cut in Two with Ludivine Sagnier, and his final work for the cinema, Bellamy with Gerard Depardieu.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: