The Bride Wore Black (Francois Truffaut, 1968)

This is supposed to be Truffaut’s homage to Hitchcock, and it’s certainly that when you consider the little Hitchcockian touches that abound in this revenge tale: the near-fetishistic camera draw-ins and close-ups on vital clues or items that’re gonna be important in the immediate or distant future of the plot (an early shot of money being laid out on the bed is pretty much directly lifted from Psycho), the sweeping Bernard Herrmann score (and boy is this one sweeping…), the long stretches of nothing happening before the instant of something happening (a poisoned liquor bottle, a game of hide and seek amidst a thunderstorm, and the anti-heroine posing for a portrait with a bow and arrow are particularly great standouts of drawn-out, suspenseful teases – you know something bad’s gonna happen, just not when), the sudden ending (although this one was actually really cool and unexpected, unlike some of Hitch’s copout endings), etc. I liked how Julie’s motivation for seeking out and killing these five seemingly nice, unassuming men is revealed gradually, but not too gradually (it’s right around the middle of the film when a flashback shows you that it’s all Michael Chiklis’ fault) – first you sympathize with the men, as they’re victims of a bizarre series of deaths at the hands of the deranged Julie, then you sympathize with Julie when you learn that she’s avenging her husband’s death, while still unaware of how it happened, then you’re back on the mens’ side when you learn the circumstances of that fateful wedding day (and when one of her potential victims, an artist, innocently begins to fall for her, and it seems that even she begins to have a pang of conscience). It’s all a completely shallow revenge tale, not to mention utterly implausible (how on earth did Julie learn the identities of the five men, let alone track them down? 😕 ), and Julie’s motivations could’ve been tweaked (although a stock moral qualm scene here and there probably would’ve done more harm than good with this type of material), but with this kind of simple story, I don’t even see that shallowness as a problem. Truffaut does a great job in shifting the audience’s allegiance between the stone-cold master of disguise Julie (seeing her put on her nice-girl game face to deceive the little kid and his father is quite creepy), who nevertheless has a hint of morality despite her dead-set quest for vengeance (props for getting that teacher off the hook), and the men she’s out to kill, and the long, drawn out sequences of the huntress going after her kill are truly worthy of the filmmaker Truffaut was trying to emulate. This was really awesome.



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