François Truffaut

Scen.: François Truffaut, Suzanne Schiffman, Jean Aurel. F.: William Lubtchansky. M.: Martine Barraqué. Scgf.: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko. Mus.: Georges Delerue. Int.: Fanny Ardant (Mathilde Bauchard), Gérard Dépardieu (Bernard Coudray), Michèle Baumgartner (Arlette Coudray), Henri Garcin (Philippe Bauchard), Véronique Silver (Odile Jouve), Roger Van Hool (Roland), Philippe Morier Genoud (lo psicanalista), Olivier Becquaert (il piccolo Thomas). Prod.: Les Films du Carrosse. DCP. Col. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Twenty years after Jules and Jim, in 1981, Truffaut’s twentieth feature film La Femme d’à côté is his penultimate movie, and his last about amour fou. In the meantime, he had made other films about encounters with “excessive” total passion, such as Mississippi Mermaid and The Story of Adèle H. La Femme d’à côté, however, is the most extreme  of all of them, with a more violent and extreme desire, a fusion of Eros-Thanatos that advances relentlessly forward, squeezing the lovers in a grasp that destroys them. “Love is war” wrote Jacques Rivière in his novel Aimée. At the time of the film, Truffaut shared his point of view: “In love, we often exchange blows of terrible violence… If I had to remake Jules and Jim today, I would not be so idyllic”… Truffaut approaches a theme that occupies much of his body of work from a new angle. Not, as the Latins say, the Omnia vincit amor that eventually emerges from the ruthless confrontation between the two main characters of Mississippi Mermaid. But “lovesickness” to the nth degree, with no way out for the couple imprisoned by it. If the filmmaker repeats himself, striking the same key over and over again, he always does so by adding new musical variations. The renewed intensity demonstrates the richness of his inner world and the seriousness of that obsession. Compared to previous films, the new element here is passion’s “return”. Bernard and Mathilde have already met, clashed, seized and destroyed each other eight years earlier. Their insane relationship – which Bernard finally recognises when telling his wife about it – has already been “damaging” for him and for his lover. Not because of their difference, more their equal instability. To believe that a singular experience can be relived is a delusion that leads to a tragic outcome. The filmmaker is absolutely certain about this, just as the Hitchcock of Vertigo was, even if for other reasons.

Ugo Casiraghi

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Restored in 4K by courtesy of MK2 at Hiventy laboratory, with the support of CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée and ARTE France. Restoration supervised by director of photography Caroline Champetier AFC