Violette Nozière

Claude ChabrolFrance / Canada125 minutes1977RColourFrench

Jul 22
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Isabelle Huppert won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her career-making performance as a teenaged murderer in Claude Chabrol's account of the true story of Violette Nozière, who became famous in the 1930s for poisoning her parents and then pleading that her father had raped her. Living a double life — chaste and dutiful in the dim apartment of her religious parents (Jean Carmet and Stéphane Audran are exceptionally fine as les parents terribles), painted and vivacious in her nocturnal forays into Left Bank cafés and hotel rooms — Huppert's Violette dreams of an unconstrained life, and contracts syphilis in her determination to achieve it; her surprising destiny may remind you of Bresson as much as Chabrol. (Watch for Bernadette Lafont in the final sequences of "spiritual transformation.") Chabrol masterfully evokes the stifling social and domestic world of his latter-day Madame Bovary, and critics hailed Violette Nozière as one of the director's greatest achievements. "A totally masterful return to the once misunderstood style of [Chabrol's] Les Bonnes Femmes" (Le Monde).

Digital presentation courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.