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Les Biches

Jean-Louis Trintignant , Jacqueline Sassard , Claude Chabrol    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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A high point from the middle career of French New Wave original Claude Chabrol, Les Biches is one of the director's tales of complicated, intertwined fates leading to horrifying ends. Chabrol's then-wife, Stephane Audran, plays a rich bisexual who picks up an impoverished young woman (Jacqueline Sassard) and takes her to her home in St. Tropez. There, much to her hostess's consternation, the visitor strikes up a romance with a handsome architect (Jean-Louis Trintignant), only to find that Audran's character is involved with him as well. The overlapping relationships grow full of rich mystery and dark possibility as the unwieldy situation begins to beg for a resolution. A study of class, desire, and compulsion, Les Biches has the hallmarks of Chabrol's streak of fascination with operatic fatalism. --Tom Keogh

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
A beautiful movie full of sexual intensity. The movie revolvesaround the lesbian relationship of a wealthty french woman(StéphaneAudran) and a street artist who becomes her lover/protogee(Jacqueline Sassard).
Both woman are physically stunning and the scenes of them together, though never explicit, are thoroughly sensual. The plot thickens with the intoduction of a third character - an attractive male architect(Jean-Louis Trintignant). The protogee's sway towards him causes a facinating shift in the relationship between all three.
Keep in mind that director Claude Chabrol is something of a French Alfred Hitchcock
Most of the film is shot in St Tropez and Paris. The scenery is breathless.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Doubles Oct. 31 2006
Format:DVD
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."
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4.0 out of 5 stars The blasé Frédérique seeks diversions... May 22 2004
Format:DVD
The blasé Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) constantly seeks diversions as she finds Why (Jacqueline Sassard), a female street artist, with whom she initiates a love affair. Frédérique shows off her luxurious apartment in Paris and her mansion on the French Riviera as well as her company for Why. Why, who has nothing, is drawn into Frédérique's steel grip where she is dominated and controlled. The love affair between the two women seems to lead toward an end as Why falls in love with Paul Thomas (Jean-Louis Trintignant), but Frédérique becomes intrigued by the situation and finds a way to get things her way. Chabrol creates an excellent atmosphere in Les Biches, a dark drama, that depicts several concepts such as wealth, the bourgeoisie, domination, and rebellion. These concepts initiate a self-destructive pattern which influences the psychology of Why as she looses control of her own will and life. In the end, Chabrol leaves the viewer with a terrific psychological thriller with an open ending leaving much room for thought.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful movie full of woman-to-woman sexual intensity Aug. 6 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
A beautiful movie full of sexual intensity. The movie revolvesaround the lesbian relationship of a wealthty french woman(StéphaneAudran) and a street artist who becomes her lover/protogee(Jacqueline Sassard).
Both woman are physically stunning and the scenes of them together, though never explicit, are thoroughly sensual. The plot thickens with the intoduction of a third character - an attractive male architect(Jean-Louis Trintignant). The protogee's sway towards him causes a facinating shift in the relationship between all three.
Keep in mind that director Claude Chabrol is something of a French Alfred Hitchcock
Most of the film is shot in St Tropez and Paris. The scenery is breathless.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handsome Does Sept. 4 2006
By blockhed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Many American reviewers (though not all, thankfully) seem completely baffled by this wonderful sample of French sense and sensibility. Some think it is funny. I couldn't detect anything funny about it. Some say it is not erotic. To me it seemed exceptionally erotic. Others find it dull and boring. Tant pis for them.

Occasionally Chabrol is said to be "The French Hitchcock". However, the subtlety and penetration of Chabrol's presentation and analytic understanding of the psychology of his characters is far superior to anything by Hitchcock, perhaps because Chabrol is unencumbered by the simplistic trammels of Freudianism. The suspense lies in how the increasingly impossible tangle of the relationships is going to be resolved. The straightforward solution would be for Why to shake herself away from the hothouse she has entered; but here the underlying factor takes over: the atmosphere of wealth, ease and gratification has irrevocably seduced her. Corruption of innocence and simplicity appears to be a persistent theme of Chabrol's, from Les Cousins onward. Those who cannot cope are put through hell before they are destroyed.

Almost all the brief summaries of this exceedingly complex film, including the one on the dvd cover, are highly misleading. It defies easy explanation. Whose actions are right and whose are wrong as the events unfold? Each of the three main characters acts with a natural selfishness, but what exactly are their underlying motivations? Why does Frederique seduce Paul? Why does Paul ditch Why? What does Why hope to gain by staying on? Are any of them actually capable of loving another person? Is homosexuality merely an extreme form of narcissism?
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The blasé Frédérique seeks diversions... May 22 2004
By Kim Anehall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The blasé Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) constantly seeks diversions as she finds Why (Jacqueline Sassard), a female street artist, with whom she initiates a love affair. Frédérique shows off her luxurious apartment in Paris and her mansion on the French Riviera as well as her company for Why. Why, who has nothing, is drawn into Frédérique's steel grip where she is dominated and controlled. The love affair between the two women seems to lead toward an end as Why falls in love with Paul Thomas (Jean-Louis Trintignant), but Frédérique becomes intrigued by the situation and finds a way to get things her way. Chabrol creates an excellent atmosphere in Les Biches, a dark drama, that depicts several concepts such as wealth, the bourgeoisie, domination, and rebellion. These concepts initiate a self-destructive pattern which influences the psychology of Why as she looses control of her own will and life. In the end, Chabrol leaves the viewer with a terrific psychological thriller with an open ending leaving much room for thought.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful period piece Dec 28 2006
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Les Biches is from the early middle period of Claude Chabrol's long career in film making. It is interesting but somewhat inexplicable. It features longtime French leading man Jean-Louis Trintignant as Paul Thomas, an architect who comes between wealthy playgirl Frederique (Stephane Audran) and her latest plaything, street artist "Why" (Jacqueline Sassard) with disastrous consequences.

Audran, who was Chabrol's wife at the time, sports spit curls down the side of her ears like sideburns which is apropos since her character is bisexual. She is a woman with a steely imperial manner who enjoys conquests above all. First she picks up Why, beds her, and then when Paul arrives on the scene showing an interest in Why, she seduces Paul and dumps Why.

The question is why? In the central scene (as far as the plot goes) the three get drunk with seemingly obvious intent only to have Frederique nix the menage a trois and shut the bedroom door on Why. Why, who has been desperately trying to look like Frederique, sits outside the bedroom door and listens to the drunken lovers inside and sucks on her fingers.

Obviously Paul would have gone along with this juicy arrangement, and certainly Why wanted it desperately. But Frederique is malicious and all conquering. Paul, who is anything but a heroic character does not insist on Why's joining them in bed not because he is madly, exclusively in love with Frederique but more likely because Frederique is the better catch because of her wealth. He is a cautious, opportunistic man.

The dialogue is sharp and witty but reserved and terse. One striking feature is the way the eyes of the women are so heavily made up. Clearly this signals a film made in the sixties. The scene in which Frederique hosts a poker game certainly anticipated the popularity of the game today. Interesting are the sycophantic gay guys that Frederique keeps around her chateau in St. Tropez for amusement.

The finish of the film is a bit of a surprise and really not that well foreshadowed. Also the title, Les Biches (translated as "Bad Girls" in English) is a bit of mystery. More appropriate might be "L'imperatrice petite" with the focus where it should be on the character of Frederique.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Hypnotic film experience July 20 2002
By Laszlo Kovacs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
I viewed Les Biches when I was 13 years old and have never been as affected by a film as much. This film ranks up with films masked in sorrow such as, Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, Bergman's Cries and Whispers, and Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups. I am somewhat saddened that this film hasn't been released as a Criterion Collection DVD which I deeply belive it should. All the characters played in this film are very much enigmas especially Jacqueline Sassard's character, Why. At first Why appears to be naive and dull, but within the course of the film soon turns psychotic and violent.
The basic storyline is a bisexual Parisean socialite, Frederique, picks up a waif, Why, who earns her living drawing does on the streets of Paris. Soon Frederique brings Why to what is left of St. Tropez on the off season to meet the chic crowd. Why meets and falls in love with suave architect,Paul. When Frederique tries to get back at Why, she finds true love in Paul and gets between Why and Paul. Paul seduces Frederique and after a while goes back to Paris with him. Why goes back to Paris also.
The scene of Why going back to Paris, filmed from a moving car, focusing on Notre Dame on an overcast afternoon for about ten seconds is etched forever in my memory along with the ultimately distrurbing and murky ending.
This is a truly great film experience that has been unseen for too long.
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