The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet) (1923)
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Critic Reviews for The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)
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Audience Reviews for The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)
A beautifully directed story about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. We see through her eyes as she fantasizing about how her life could be. Her husband is a cold man, who does not value her wife's gift of piano playing (locking it up as he goes out to see a play), and fantasizes about other women while they sleep in separate beds. The style of the film is very high-level for a silent film, with ghost-like effects for the visions Madame Beudet has, which include a handsome tennis player who heroically arrives to get rid of the difficult husband. The acting can be over the top at times, but closeups are very restrained and soft. The closing scene with the couple embracing, while a vision of a puppet couple acting out the same scenario is brilliant, as the curtain closes on the puppet show with the word "Theater". The ending makes you think about what constitutes love and marriage, as this couple realize their relationship has become more a habit than an attraction. Yet, they appear to accept it, as they realize that despite their troubles, one wouldn't want to live without the other. One of the best silent films I've seen.
Madame Beudet is trapped in a marriage that cancels her personality and the film suggests the unfortunate situation of the woman through her husband's brutal gestures: he re-arranges her flowers again and again, he locks the piano, he's mocking her in front of his friend.
I'm not sure if the title is sarcastic (Mrs. Beudet is fundamentally unhappy) or if she smiles her dreams to escape from this marriage.
She would like a divorce, but a better opportunity seems to arise when her husband leaves home, not before playing his favorite joke: suicide with an unloaded gun. She loads the gun, but is then haunted by remorse. Even more, her husband's image follows her in the night dreams.
In the morning, she tries unsuccessfully to remove the bullets from the revolver but her husband changes his mind and heads the gun to her.
What's up with the lack of info and image, this is a classic, a master example of great silent filmmaking.
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