Claude Chabrol, prolific grand master filmmaker, Cahiers du Cinéma critic and member of the French New Wave, passed away this morning at age 80. Ronald Bergan writes an obituary at the Guardian:
Marriage, in Chabrol’s films, must be defended by betrayed bourgeois spouses at any cost. But whatever is seething beneath the surface – guilt, jealousy or crime – the niceties of life must continue. In his ironic black comedies, large meals at home or in a restaurant are orchestrated into the action. For example, the two meals in La Femme Infidèle (The Unfaithful Wife, 1968), pointedly show the shift in the couple’s relationship and the child’s awareness of it. “The only love that can really exist in the bourgeois family is the love of parents for their children,” Chabrol said. “I’m not against marriage or the family, only the bourgeois family.” Here he resembled Luis Buñuel, although Buñuel attacked the bourgeoisie from without with a machete; Chabrol attacked them from within with a dinner fork. He uses his “evil eye”, like the voyeuristic writer in L’Oeil du Malin (The Third Lover, 1962) who secretly photographs a wife (Audran) with her lover, thus exposing the sham of what appeared to be a happy marriage.
For the French-speaking, here’s Chabrol discussing his last film, 2009’s “Bellamy” (which
has yet to find a US distributor is being released by IFC Films on October 29th):