Une femme douce
(A Gentle Creature)
Dominique Sanda, Guy Frangin, Jeanne Lobre, Claude Ollier,
The suicide of a young wife begins this simple, inscrutable story; afterward, her pawnbroker husband relates the history of their marriage. But his narration necessarily fails to explain the woman whose life we see in flashback, underlining the ultimate privacy of death. The actors deliver their impassioned Dostoyevskian lines with a wonderfully daft affectlessness; at moments, the direction reaches a level of sublime absurdity reminiscent of late Buñuel. Mysteriously resonant, too, are the quiet, lucid surfaces that fill the interiors of the director’s first color picture—the pawnbroker’s dark, burnished table, over which the couple first meet; or Dominique Sanda’s pallid face, only slightly more animate in life than in death; and the luminous lid of her coffin, whose closing marks the film’s end.