on July 14, 2006 by Kevin Courrier
"Gabrielle" is an airless, forgettable adaptation of Joseph Conrad's short story that drains all the drama out of this tale of marital discord. M. Hervey (Pascal Greggory) is a self-satisfied bourgeois husband who treats his wife, Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert), as one of his many possessions. One day, he comes home to discover a letter from her informing him that she has departed with another man. He's immediately shattered by the news, but Gabrielle returns before long and they attempt to return to the rituals of their marriage. Of course, the marriage is so poisoned that neither can live out the charade.

Director Patrice Chereau designs the film as a narrow critique of class structure and how a sense of privilege hides the darker impulses within this couple. But Chereau pretty much condemns them before we can even perceive their duplicities. "Gabrielle" reeks of the same snobbery it denounces in others. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory and Claudia Coli. Directed by Patrice Chereau. Written by Patrice Chereau and Anne-Louise Trividic. Produced by Joseph Strub, Serge Catoire and Ferdinanda Frangipane. No distributor set. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min

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