La Vérité (1960)

La Vérité (1960), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

"The Truth".

A young woman is on trial for the murder of her lover. She admits to shooting him. The story is about courtroom procedures and flashbacks showing how it all happened. Will the court find she had reason?

It is Brigitte Bardot's job to represent the threat of youth, in this case a young woman who just doesn't fit into accepted public morality. Perhaps we expect the French to be more understanding in matters of youth and passion, but no: just as in America the rigid forces of convention are not having this business of casual sex and the cafe society of the artists.

Just flashes of nudity but still racy stuff for 1960. She complains to her musician lover: "Between your music and your mattress I'm suffocating". When broke she turns to prostitution with an American tourist and her friends are not shocked. Sexually free but looking for love: she's easy to exploit.

We get a look at the French law courts:

Something I noticed: Clouzot is easy to watch. He keeps the visual component of the story moving. He's called the French Hitchcock and he shares with that director the talent of entertaining the eye without distracting it. This is a subtle skill mostly disregarded today. I've been fast forwarding through some modern films while reading the subtitles because there is nothing to see. You wouldn't do that with better directors.

A tumultuous production: love affairs, lawsuits, nervous breakdowns, attempted suicides, heart attack, an inside tell-all account sold to the press.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion.