December 19, 2007

Gabrielle (Chéreau, 2005)

In Joseph Conrad's short story The Return (of which the author himself remarked "I hate it"), Patrice Cheréau finds the basis for this potent chamber drama, an outwardly staid, inwardly powerful tale of marital strife. There is much to savor here; in the note perfect performances of Huppert as the titular Gabrielle, and especially Pascal Greggory as the confused cuckold; in Cheréau's carefully stylized direction; in Eric Gautier's stunningly polished images; in a score by Fabio Vacchi that manages to be both melodramatic and elegant. On top of all of these things, Gabrielle also manages to illuminate the communicative space between cinema and the theater. Cheréau's film is a masterpiece in a minor key.