The Story of Adèle H.
aka L'histoire d'Adèle H.
Reviewed in May 2010
Director: François Truffaut. Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson, Sylvia Marriott, Ruben Dorey, Joseph Blatchley, Ivry Gitlis, Cecil De Sausmarez, Madame Louise. Screenplay: François Truffaut, Jean Gruault, and Suzanne Schiffman (based on the diaries of Adèle Hugo, and from a screen story by Frances V. Guille).

Photo © 1975 United Artists
Halifax, Civil War; "really happened!"; starts in Engl lang, b/c she doesn't want to stay in Hotel Halifax; a "niece" focused rather romantically on Lieut Pinson; rep twice "L Pinson means nothing to me" to earhorn priv inspector; spooking and whipping about in period garb; son of village clergyman, her sister's brother-in-law, all these disontinuous stories; "Our separation has destroyed me"; "I know you must be suffering as I am... I've received none of your letters"; drowned older sister Leopoldine; "The Lieut read the letter but didn't want to answer it" (gradual zoom); attempts to dissemble but soon crying into her hand; once she's gone, man confides L didn't even open letter; b&w, superimposed dream of drowning nightmare; in heavy chiaroscuro, recites rather than writes an agitated letter about the money she's owed and hasn't received; v. close CU on Pinson as he enters, nearly direct to cam, as though challenging us with his brittle, aquiline handsomeness; innkeeper rhapsoidizing on IA's behalf; she's nearly hyperventilating about his arrival; covering his mouth as he opens it to talk (v. directed gesture); "Adele, you mustn't stay here"; channeling Leopoldine at night, in v.short scene; I have no more jealousy and no more pride, I have gone beyond pride; spying on BR's liaison with another gal, from outside the winodw; whole lightint scheme & palette of the film seems designed with her in mind; "I have the religion of love"; Adele in Ecstasy; "the autumn of my life," raggedly narrated in vo; doctor: "V Hugo is the greaest living poet, I dont' know Homer, Dante, Shakespeare... also a political thinker in danger for his ideas," the daugher of the most famous man in the world; in the graveyard outside th eparty: "It was YOU who pursued ME - it was YOU who caressed me in the hallway"; false report of marriage narrated to cam in close-up superimposed over roling indigo ocean; requires addr to "Madame Pinson," prominently on each envelope; Pinson: "a highly strung young lady," in resp to printed wedding announcement; "if your bheavior were beyond reproach, you would not be made vulnerable to mishaps of this kind"; still lots of English dialogue; vo from VH: "You are not married and there's no hope you ever will be"; 600F for return fare; does he not think we know who wrote Les Mis?; attends hypnosis demonstration, partly watches Pinson there with his date; she appro hypnotist to see if he'll force LP into love?; "Coudl you compel a man to marry a woman?"; writes her father's name silently on the hypnotist's dusty mirror, then immediatley wipes it out; impossible either because she's lying or it's too dangerous; he demands 5000F; "I denounce the lying of legal status, the swindle of identity"; pays a call on Agnes Johnstone; flexing her hand in her leather glove, wearing her spectacles; overplayed reaction to seeing innkeeper in grocery shop; maroon dress, ripped by dogs and exposure - even more in Barbados than in Halifax, where Lt's unit is transfered; she's in the Negro Quarter; she's going by "Mrs. Pinson"; IA doesn't seem to recognize LP as he trails her through Barbados, during her mad, Lucia di Lammermoor stroll; Negro woman's letter: "....who seemed to be poor and marked by destiny... children made fun of her" - this black woman took care of her as well as possible and is writing to VH, whom she knows well as an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, so that he will take Adele back under his wing; postscript tells us Mme Baa did indeed bring her back, after fall of Napoleon III and reunion in France, where she lived in an asylum for 40 years journaling in her secret language, and outliving the rest of her family; VH's last words "I see a black light," day of mourning in France - odd swerve into legacy of HIS death rather than hers, b&w footage; HER death almost unnoticed amidst WWI; speaking in b&w from beyond the grave, at a rocky seashore moment just prior to leaving Guernsey for Halifax; weirdly merry score at end, as credits roll over her face, water rippling behind her B

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Actress: Isabelle Adjani

Other Awards:
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress (Adjani); Best Screenplay
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress (Adjani)
National Board of Review: Best Actress (Adjani); Best Foreign Language Film

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