"I'm a real messy bitch. A liar. A scammer. I love robbery and fraud. I'm a messy bitch who lives…
See it, be amazed at it, but... BE QUIET ABOUT IT!
The cruel and abusive headmaster of a boarding school, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), becomes the target of a murder plot hatched by an unlikely duo -- his meek wife (Vera Clouzot) and the mistress he brazenly flaunts (Simone Signoret). The women, brought together by their mutual hatred for the man, pull off the crime but become increasingly unhinged by a series of odd occurrences after Delassalle's corpse mysteriously disappears.
Blending together the elements of horror & mystery in a seamless manner, cleverly using its available resources to provide a sense of dread & uncertainty, and efficiently sustaining its tense atmosphere from start to finish, Diabolique (also known as Les Diaboliques) is one of the finest examples of its genre(s) that simply refuses to age despite being nearly 60 years old.
The story concerns the wife of a cruel headmaster who, along with the help of her husband's mistress, devises a plan to murder him, and after careful arrangement manages to successfully execute it without leaving behind any traces. However, things are ultimately set in motion when the body mysteriously disappears from site after which a number of strange occurrences ensue.
The cold sweat, the uncontrollable trembling, the heavy breathing, the pressure on the chest, the burdensome weight felt by the knees, the inability to move, the faintness of the voice, the paralyzed mind. It’s fear, taking over. The artistry with which Henri-Georges Clouzot produces fear, sustains it and shows its crushing effects in Les Diaboliques elevate not only the film but the horror genre altogether. It is one of those rare occasions when the destabilizing nature of uncertainty, the sheer sense of dread and the spine-chilling force of fear are not taken for granted, but skillfully and vividly conveyed. Les Diaboliques is a film so effectively shrouded in mystery and delusion that it becomes a psychological assault of mind-boggling conviction.…
Despite having a wickedly clever ending filled with twists and suspense, the journey to get all the way there was rather monotonous.
I finished this film just moments ago, and I immediately want to go tell the world what I just saw. But I cant. Because at the end, a little message scrolled past that told me not to ruin the surprise. Diabolique is very interesting in the fact that a movie released in 1955, 58 years ago, is still making its audiences keep quiet about the ending. I have to thank the fans of the movie who didnt spoil this for me, and I will become one of those people who will carry the secret of this film to my grave.
Well, thats a little extreme, but I feel its justified in this context. The twist is simple, but planned…
Part of my 2012-1932 project
If there has ever been a movie equipped with the ability to have the viewer(s) glued to the screen while chewing on their arms as they have no nails nor fingers left, it must be Les diaboliques.
I had no doubts about Clouzot's claim to the throne of French master of suspence, after having seen La salaire de la peur, but Les diaboliques is a step up in my book.
It takes its time, meticulously building up to the crime, and establishing motives. And although it's nowhere near boring, the true perfection is the second half, when the suspence is turned up to 11. Incredible tension, and here we're also treated to some great direction from Clouzot as well, especially in the build up to the penultimate scene. Masterful!
Part of Hoop Tober
Highly influenced by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, but still easily finding a heart of its own, this taut psychological thriller of the classical era is a perfectly apt example of why the horror films of the past are much more effective in their attempt to create suspense and torment the audience (even though they had basically no gore and all the other elements and tools that give name to the horror genre today). Being significantly more minimalist (and clever) by using wide angle, long(er) take and practically no music (allowing the silences to fill the frame and conduct the scene), director Henri-Georges Clouzot (as well as the other big names of suspense of the…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Alcohol en kleinburgerlijkheid
Tirannieke schooldirecteur (Paul Meurisse) regeert met ijzeren vuist over de verschillende klassen, rangen, geslachten en standen op zijn prestigieuze internaat. Zowel schoolkinderen als personeelsleden dienen zich te schikken naar zijn hardvochtige tucht en orde, waarmee het systeem draaiende gehouden wordt. Iedereen kent zijn plek in de hiërarchie. Voor de leerlingen een braaf ‘ja en amen’ als meester of juffrouw wat van hen vraagt. Volwassen leerkrachten moeten zich ook conformeren naar de sociale spelregels; met als grappigste fragment een gefrustreerde leerkracht die toestemming vraagt voor het derde nipje alcohol tijdens de gemeenschappelijke schoollunch.
Simone Signoret en Véra Clouzot spelen de twee grootste slachtoffers van de onderdrukkende patriarchale tirannie. Exotische echtgenote (Christina Delassalle) is in een innerlijk conflict verwikkeld…
The ending was predictable and, so, I'm tempted to call it a dip in the film's quality. But of course The Moment that makes it predictable is incredibly satisfying. Mostly because the film actually dials up the intensity. Intensity which is sorely lacking anywhere else, unless I'm supposed to be surprised by a verbally abusive man turning physical and slapping a woman. I think you'll find upon testing me that I am not surprised by this in the least.
I hate to say it, but the famous Diabolique is 99.9% about how the long-suffering wife never stops suffering. Wait. I should probably adjust that percentage. Add some more 9's to it. In this case I almost have to wonder why…
A tad overlong in its conclusion but pretty damn great
"The keys in the pool, the husband in the morgue! You dream too much about water in this house!"
The film ends with a request not to be a "devil" -- or in 2016 parlance, a dick -- by spoiling the film for your friends, so I'll do no such thing.
What I will do is praise Clouzot and his cinematographer for their WONDERFUL use of lighting and shadow in the climax of the film. The psychological torment the character goes through is masterfully told through cinematography. I wish I had seen this movie in my film school days.
The one that started it all when it comes to any psycho thrillers that followed it.
Utter brilliance in every frame. Darker than any of its successors.
Better shot. Better acted.
Watching what happens to Vera Clouzot makes anything that happens to Edwige or Carroll Baker child's play. This must have been for Gastaldi what the bible is for the pope.
Nail biting suspense all the way through. No hope for nobody. In black and white.
There is no music. Possibly best sound editing ever. Amazing.
One of the all time endings.
I've slightly fleshed out my original review from ten (?) years ago here. Even more so than in 'The Wages of Fear', Clouzot comes across as a true sadist -- he doesn't want you to revel in a corker of a story, he wants you to feel all the misery and pain here right along with the characters. It's not wholly humorless but it's a hell of a nasty experience, which is easy to forget when you look back on the thing and remember the giddy thrill of that unforgettable climax. Also easy to forget: the inhumanely annoying detective character who shows up in the third act and threatens to turn the whole enterprise into a bad episode of French…
Movies that are slightly off.
This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…