Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Story of Women (Claude Chabrol, 1988) B+
A fascinating film about an abortionist (Isabelle Huppert) who is guillotined during the Nazi occupation of France, not necessarily because of the seriousness of the crime but more as a way to set a moral example for the rest of the country. On the surface, Story of Women may seem to have a lot in common with Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, but all similarities end with the abortion issue. While Vera Drake focused on getting women abortions for safety's seek, Marie in Story of Women is only concerned with the wealth that comes from doing the procedure. In fact, Marie is generally an awful person (she's selfish, a lousy wife and a loving but not attentive mother) from the start to the end. Even when she learns about a patient of hers that she may have killed she seems rather unfazed by the news. Story of Women won't convert anyone one way or another on the abortion issue in the way that I suspect Vera Drake was meant to do, but it's a poignant and compelling drama well worth the time.