Reality, or fantasy is the immediate question posed in Claude Chabrol's L'Enfer. The man who carries the mantel the"French Hitchcock" Chabrol delivers a taut, bare to the bones thriller.
When husband Paul (Francois Cluzet) begins to believe his beautiful, flirtatious wife Nelly (Emmanuelle Beart) is fooling around, his psychological demise is quick, and intense.
Chabrol brings us the story primarily from Paul's point of view, leaving many of the ambiguities, as well as the uncertainties of this tale to our own imagination.
From a script of Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique, Wages of Fear) written in 1964, Chabrol updates the original (Clouzot never finished his version due to failing health, he died in 1977) giving it the contemporary setting and dialogue, but maintaining a style of presentation consistent with the thrillers of that era.
I love this early exchange: Nelly: "You're following me, Paul." Paul: "Why would I, is there any reason?" Nelly: "No, but if you keep it up, there will be."
Emmanuelle Beart shows why she is one of the world's great stars. American audiences have yet to have the best of Beart, who's English speaking debut (Mission:Impossible) seemed uneven, almost clumsy. But here she delivers on all cylinders: a beautiful seductress. Calculating? Unfaithful? We'll see.