For Reel

Story of Women (1988)
December 19, 2015, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Claude Chabrol
3.5 Stars
Story of WomenThe title of Claude Chabrol’s 1988 abortion drama Story of Women makes it clear that it is intended to dramatize an individual’s journey as a reflected criticism of society at large. Set in Vichy France, Isabelle Huppert plays a woman loosely based on Marie-Louie Giraud, an abortionist and brothel keeper famed as being the last woman guillotined in France. Neither Chabrol nor Huppert are particularly interested in moralizing–despite the complexity of the material, notice how Huppert shows a businesslike indifference to her trade. The ethics of abortion rarely come into question, rather it serves as an avenue for one woman to make ends meet. Similarly, Huppert’s character entirely neglects traditional roles of womanhood, outsourcing her chores to a maid and even hiring a woman to sleep with her husband (Francois Cluzet). And yet, despite these conventional immoralities, the film is more concerned with the irony of a society that sentences a woman to death due to her participation in terminated pregnancies, and yet leaves her children without a mother. Her fate suggests the violent impossibility of escaping the throes of repression–taking initiative in her life is ultimately what spells her downfall.

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