L'Enfer ★★★★½

"I am so glad you are jealous! It proves you care for me..", sighs a lovelorn Nelly (the vivacious and seductive Emanuelle Beart) to her husband Paul (François Cluzet) in Claude Chabrol's "L'Enfer" (1994). Little does she know at this point that she would soon have to eat her words!

Chabrol's film adapted from Henri-Georges Clouzot's script of his unfinished film, explores with a finesse that is rare, the unwelcome transformation of a loving husband into an insanely possessive monster, with overwhelming jealousy completely consuming his psyche and clouding his ability to reason.

The film begins with a love affair that follows into a healthy marriage rather quickly in a very buoyant manner. Paul seems to be a nice, fun-loving guy, happy with his lake side holiday resort business with a good staff and good friends around to keep the place running and lively. Nelly only adds to the liveliness with her spunky charm and smouldering hot looks, replete with that sensuous cherry-red lip-gloss pout!

Business seems to be as usual, until one of Nelly's harmless visits to the beach with some friends plants a poisonous seed in Paul's mind about her amorous involvement with Martineau (Marc Lavoine), a friend and garage owner. Paul soon begins to fill unwarranted blanks about information innocuously withheld from him, and before we know it, the ball of an unhealthy transformation has been set a-rolling. It is not too long before Paul begins to play detective and follows his wife around, thinking ugly thoughts of his wife's liasons with not only Martineau, but practically every man around his resort; all based on surmise, of course, and no concrete evidence, gradually letting himself slip into a seemingly irreparable psychosis.

Henri-Georges Clouzot had first set out to make "L'Enfer" with the bewitching Romy Schneider. That was back in 1964, but the project never took off, due to various reasons. Years after his death, his widow sold the script to Chabrol, who reworked it and filmed his own version. Whether Chabrol did justice to the original script, filmed a version better or lesser, we will never know, for we have only one finished film to judge. Suffice to say, though, that he has crafted a compelling psycho-drama indeed, and added yet another great film to his oeuvre for us cineastes to savour.

My detailed review/analysis at: