Wednesday, August 05, 2015

La Chambre bleue

2014, France, directed by Mathieu Amalric

A very nice latter-day Simenon film, with one of the writer's great virtues, brevity, intact -- not always something that survives in other filmed adaptations, including by Chabrol, often such an economical filmmaker. It's also an interesting study in adaptation: for the most part it is exceptionally faithful to the book, both in tone (Amalric's flat responses to the questioning, almost resigned to his fate) and plotting. 

Still, there are intriguing changes: I don't think there's any suggestion that Amalric's character routinely indulges in extra-marital affairs whereas in the book his brother owns the hotel where he plans his assignations, adding a level of perfidy. Amalric also changes the profession of his lover: she is a pharmacist rather than a shopkeeper, which makes her access to poison easier to explain but then makes her delivery of the fatal dose rather more cumbersome. The cross-cutting between quite intense depictions of the affair and the dry legal follow-up is also very much from the book, which has a very frank tone taking advantage of increased permissiveness in the 1960s. And then there are, of course, the choices that are unique to the film -- the sun-dappled holiday accompanied by foreboding music that wouldn't be out of place in a Hitchcock picture. 

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