Review: ‘Therese Desqueyroux’

This is one of those rare films, a social and psychological drama that remains taut and absorbing throughout due to a rare combination of observant direction, expert thesping and an insight into the personages.

This is one of those rare films, a social and psychological drama that remains taut and absorbing throughout due to a rare combination of observant direction, expert thesping and an insight into the personages.

A woman has tried to poison her husband in a provincial section of France. She is freed when he does not press charges. But on her way back to him she thinks over what led to it. She is a sensitive almost exalted girl who marries the son of a rich, landed family. But the man is direct, stuffy and incapable of awakening any feeling or love in her. She becomes frigid, dissatisfied and disenchanted.

Emmanuelle Riva has a way of overcoming her ordinary looks by an intense projection of internal sincerity, and etches a brilliant picture of this fragile tragic woman almost destroyed by human pettiness, pride and indifference. Others all limn their parts well.

Director Georges Franju keeps this [adaptation of Francois Mauriac’s novel] from being literary, in spite of a commentary, by a controlled feel for visual detail, and a pace and rhythm that build this probing drama into a film of strength and originality.

Therese Desqueyroux

France

Production

Filmel. Director Georges Franju; Producer Eugene Lepicier; Screenplay Francois Mauriac, Claude Mauriac, Georges Franju; Camera Christian Matras; Editor Gilbert Natot; Music Maurice Jarre; Art Director Jacques Chalvet

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1962. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Emmanuelle Riva Philippe Noiret Edith Scob Sami Frey Renee Devillers Lucien Nat

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