Brittle, complicated,timeless on the one hand yet definitely of a time on the other, Claude Chabrol's sublime "Les Biches" (not what you think, btw...but meaning "The Does" as in a female deer), released in 1968 resonates with subtext and reverberates with thought and meaning from which several subsequent directors have shamelessly borrowed: particularly Robert Altman in his much maligned, though glorious "Three Women" and Barbet Schroeder's more pedestrian "Single White Female."
Frederique (the iconic Stephane Audran) is rich, bored, mostly gay and looking for diversion when she comes upon street artist Why (Jacqueline Sasssard...and yes that is her name) who draws chalk Does on the Paris streets, is homeless, begs for money and sleeps with whomever can offer her a bed for the night. F is more than eager to offer Why a bed, a home in St. Tropez and a life filled with luxuries. But what Frederique is not willing to offer Why is her freedom. F is the master/hunter and Why is the slave/prey: or is it vice versa as throughout this film their roles change,flip then flop then flip again.
Chabrol is dealing with so many things here: the ability to receive or give love unselfishly, the doubling or taking on the persona (shades of Bergman's "Persona") of the object of your love, the stain and ruin of jealousy and on and on.
"Les Biches" is simple and stubbornly straightforward on one level yet feverishly complicated on most. Is Love hard as a *itch or soft as a Doe? Look elsewhere if you are looking for the easy answer: You won't find it in "Les Biches."