Saturday, May 7, 2022

L'Histoire d'Adèle H/The Story of Adele H

Movie Name: 
L'Histoire d'Adèle H/The Story of Adele H
Year of Release: 1975
Director: François Truffaut
Starring: Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson, Sylvia Marriott, Joseph Blatchley, Ivry Gitlis, Louise Bourdet, Ruben Dorey, Roger Martin
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
The celebrated François Truffaut followed his "La Nuit Américaine/Day for Night", with a more intimate and dramatic film, one detailing the sad saga of Victor Hugo's daughter, Adèle Hugo. The film follows the narrative of Adèle as she flees Europe in the pursuit of her loved one, Lieutenant Pinson, who is stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, towards the end of the 19th century. While Albert Pinson did court her while she was living with her family in Guernsey, since her father had been sent there into exile, she firstly denied his advances, since her father was also against the union. But her feelings grew more intensely and she soon finds herself following Albert, wanting him to desperately resume the relationship and propose. Adèle takes residence with a family in Halifax, and unsuccessfully tries for Albert to resume the relationship, including giving him money to pay off his gambling debts. All the while her father and the rest of the family are trying to get her to return, to no avail, since her all consuming obsession continues to be Albert. He eventually finds himself transferred to Barbados, and once again Adèle follows him, but her mental and physical capacity are at this point quite diminished.
Based on the true story of Adèle Hugo, this dramatic tale of obsessive love, in actuality hides the fact that she was later on diagnosed with schizophrenia (and spent the most part of the last 40 something years of her life in a mental institution, until passing away in 1915). The film chronicles her desperation and persistence in attaining the love of Albert, trying by all means to make him realize the depth of her feelings and how willing to brush her own self love aside for him and his attention she actually was. The narrative in particular focuses on her life in Halifax, where her attempts to capture Albert's attention only further alienate him. It's a tragic narrative, one that François Truffaut brings somewhat vividly to life, however without the feverish and intensity that Bruno Nuytten's captured in "Camille Claudel", another artist with a tragic life, also portrayed by Isabelle Adjani. The film anchors itself in the luminous performance from Isabelle Adjani who perfectly embodies Adèle, charting her rollercoaster of emotions, oscillating between love stricken bride to be, to delusional, to self humiliating, to embittered, always with a single and determined purpose. It's a magnetic and all consuming performance that gives the film its jolt of energy, since for the most part the supporting characters don't have quite as much dimension, including the object of her affection, Albert Pinson, portrayed rather blandly by Bruce Robinson. The production team is impeccable, featuring the beautiful cinematography from the late Nestor Almendros and costume design by Jacqueline Guyot. A film always worth revisiting from an immensely talented film maker.