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Gabrielle 2005 ****

With so many film-makers aiming low, it’s a pleasure to find one like the late French auteur Patrice Chereau who consistently tests the imagination and intelligence of his audience. Adapting Joseph Conrad’s novel The Return, Leconte constructs a hypnotic chamber drama of great passion and intensity. Isabelle Huppert (The Lacemaker) plays Gabrielle, whose marriage to Jean (Pascal Greggory) is rocked when he discovers a letter that indicates her infidelity. All is not what it seems, and while Chereau keeps the drama small-scale and indoors, the sense of 1900’s Paris morality is stifling and tangible. Huppert is sensational as Gabrielle, and anyone who has experienced the paid of a relationship collapse will understand her predicament, beautifully performed and caught with admirable sensitivity.

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