The Story of Adele H. Screen 5 articles

The Story of Adele H.

1975

The Story of Adele H. Poster
  • Truffaut seems to find Adele H. a perversely admirable figure, one passionately devoted to expressing herself profligately, in a language of her own devising; the act of expression itself is what matters, regardless of the outcome or intellectual sanity underpinning the process. I dig the impulse.

  • In which Truffaut tries his hand at an Ophuls film, complete with an insanely devoted heroine and a prat who could barely reciprocate even if he wanted to. The plot doesn't evolve much, but it does have a character—and what an actress to play her, even if Truffaut is better at capturing her constant frenzy than in getting under the surface. Truffaut was no Ophuls, but that's no disparagement. Ophuls was no Truffaut.

  • It is the recreation of a passion, but the passion entertained by this particular woman in love, played with frightening self-possession by Isabelle Adjani of the Comedie Francaise, is seen not as desire or ecstasy, or with even a glimpse of mutuality, but as a dark and one-sided obsession, a pursuit remorselessly undertaken, with the female stalking the male, almost literally, to the ends of the earth.

  • Period pieces tend to bring out a filmmaker's austere side, but François Truffaut turns in what may be his most formally adventurous film. Befitting his cinephilia, the director eschews the stuffy asceticism and filmed-play nature of so many works in this genre in favor of a classicism derived from the often modern techniques of Old Hollywood directors.

  • ...Made up of words and promises found equally disingenuous, Adele's infatuation turns inward, becoming manic—typified by superimpositions over her face of crashing ocean waves, reminiscent both of the ocean she crossed to be with her lover, and the waves that drowned her sister as a child. Truffaut and DP Néstor Almendros make these entrancing and terrifying in monumentalist style (shades of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir).

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