Une Affaire de Femmes
The Story of Women
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Let's talk about abortion! As a young woman, you can pretty much guess my stance on it. Okay, maybe we don't have to discuss it here, as it is obviously a topic that can make people fussy. Still, we can at the very least attempt to answer the question: is Marie a villain or a victim?
The film takes place during the German occupation of Paris. Marie is a poor housewife and mother, whose husband is a prisoner of war in Germany. In a lot of ways, she is the typical housewife, although I almost feel like Isabelle Huppert is too pretty to pass as a typical anything. As a favor, she helps her neighbor who desperately wants to end her pregnancy and soon, through word of mouth, is able to make a living off her...skills.
Basically, Marie does everything a woman shouldn't. She's unfaithful, she befriends a prostitute, she refuses to have sex with her husband, and, of course, she performs multiple abortions. I wouldn't go so far as to call her admirable, but it is fascinating to watch her break conventions so fearlessly (although I guess she really didn't understand what the consequences would be). I wish we knew how Marie knew how to perform abortions. It is never really explained; in fact, the filmmakers make it seem like a natural talent.
The fact that this is based on a true story just makes it all the more interesting. I love that the director never took too strong of a moral stance; he tells the story and leaves it up to the audience to decide how we feel about Marie.
This is definitely a film that I will have to reflect on, but for now, I am going with four stars.
A favorite of John Waters'. Let's not hold that against the film.