Gabrielle (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Based on a Joseph Conrad short story, Patrice Chéreau's drama of marital breakdown in belle époque Paris actually feels more like an adaptation of a play. "I love her as a collector loves his most prized item," says haut bourgeois husband Jean (Pascal Greggory) of his wife Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert), who abandons him only to return almost immediately, prompting a very public falling out that draws a young housemaid (Claudia Coli) into the fray.

Eric Gautier's photography is sumptuous and dark - the party scenes resemble Tissot's society paintings - but the talkiness that dominates the film is terribly ponderous. Greggory and Huppert rail at each other with an intensity that never properly translates into drama.