The Woman Next Door (La femme d'à côté) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Woman Next Door (La femme d'à côté) Reviews

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½ December 23, 2016
As it stands as a study of the perils that color obsessive love, François Truffaut's "The Woman Next Door" (1981) is well aware that victims of it are common connoisseurs of the notion that life is meaningless without their object of affection by their side. To be away from them -- distanced by any other relationship beside theirs-- is not an option. To die (with them, of course) is more acceptable an offer than any sort of makeshift independence.
Within its first few moments, though, is it not much clear that "The Woman Next Door" is going to revolve around such matters. Initially does it take on the form of a comedy of manners and then an erotic drama, a "Fatal Attraction" (1987) without the thrills or the mania, if you will. It stars the ever affable Gérard Depardieu as Bernard Coudray, a stereotypical bourgeois husband living happily with his wife (Michèle Baumgartner) and son in the village of Grenoble. Still not yet in the grips of the inevitable boredom that comes along with living the life of a less happy-go-lucky Mike Brady, he'd be content acting as breadwinner for the rest of his mundane life. Or so he thinks.
Things are made interesting, then, when the Coudrays get new neighbors. They are Philippe and Mathilde Bauchard (Henri Garcin and Fanny Ardant), newlyweds renting the charming house for the time being. It turns out, though, that the people next door (the woman next door, to be exact) are not total strangers: eight or nine years ago, Bernard and Mathilde were lovers, and the split wasn't amicable. Some would say that Mathilde was more in love with Bernard than he was with her, and that imbalance led to repeated bouts of volatility during their run together.
Tensions could be released by admitting the truth -- the relationships between both spouses appear to be healthy enough to take such revelations lightly and laugh them off -- but Bernard and Mathilde unwisely keep their connection a secret until it blooms into a redeveloped affair. Before long, they're inconspicuously meeting in the same hotel room nearly every weekday evening, partaking in the pleasures of each other's company to the cluelessness of their respective spouses.
All culminates in disaster, as most cinematic affairs do. But Truffaut, intriguingly, hides the obsessive nature of one of his leading characters until all hell breaks loose, a move that'd be much more affecting if the film smelled more like slow-burn suspense. But it doesn't: we can't much tell where it's going or if it wants to be an immoral romantic drama or a psychological provoker. Ardant and Depardieu's performance are effective in themselves, their chemistry flaming. But Truffaut explores his themes of obsession far too casually for a feature that begs to nurse at least a couple throbs of melodramatic grandeur. "The Woman Next Door" should be Hitchcockian, but only its character types match up with the latter's distinctive stylistics, the rest of the film's methodical output without much character or direct texture.
The ending's assuredly bold, and yet it seems to belong to a more operatic, intense film; "The Woman Next Door's" understatedness doesn't complement it. Though like a lot of minor works from great directors, everything about it is immaculate -- except the impression it leaves on us, and no artistic mastery can hide receptionary indifference.
October 30, 2016
Not my favourite, could have a more believable ending.
½ June 13, 2015
The chemistry between Depardieu and Ardant makes it more of the most remarkable work of Truffaut.
August 25, 2013
Goes to show how twisted love can become when "i can't live with or without you." I almost didn't like it, but the ending changed my thinking.

I liked how Gerard worked as a tanker teacher on small models in Grenoble. The tennis club was an interesting social centre for the community.
July 19, 2013
A profoundly Hitchcockian film, in that its real subjects are guilt, passion and terrible consequences of a sin that starts out small.
February 19, 2013
A thrilling portrait of an accident waiting to happen. Truffaut knows enough to stay out of the story's way and let the events take their course.
½ January 28, 2013
Elegant , yet over the top l'amour fou story.
½ August 26, 2012
La passion. C'est parfait. Mon Truffaut prà (C)fà (C)rà (C).
½ June 6, 2012
Deux excellents acteurs ne font pas nécessairement un excellent film, nous en avons maintenant la preuve. Truffaut nous livre le récit de Bernard et de Mathilde, respectivement interprétés par Gérard Depardieu et Fanny Ardant, deux anciens amants qui se retrouvent à présent voisins et qui se doivent de lutter contre leur pulsions d'attirance sexuelle pour éviter de tout foutre en l'air ce qu'ils ont bâtis depuis maintes années.

Mais le poids de la famille et des enfants pèse alors peu dans ces pulsions instinctives, et le spectateur se retrouve voyeur, prisonnier intime de cette relation entre Bernard et Mathilde. Si seulement cette histoire était un peu plus intéressante, un peu poignante et dramatique, peut-être serait-ce là un voyeurisme fascinant, dérangeant. Mais non, tout se caractérise par la banalité de la chose, et il faut attendre au dénouement final avant d'enfin assister à un amour poétique et déchirant.

Ce qu'il y a de dommage, c'est que le film ne prépare pas du tout cette fin. En tant que tel, l'approche du film est presque légère, voire ennuyante, quoique quelques tentatives dramatiques aient été avortées, et cette finale, quoique excellente, est accablée d'une logique qui n'explique pas les actions des personnages.
Super Reviewer
January 23, 2012
"The Woman Next Door" is a simple tale of romantic obsession. Simple enough that director Francois Truffaut apparently had trouble fleshing it into a full-length feature. So, he adds a trivial subplot about book publishing, an inordinate amount of tennis and a strangely emphasized secondary character who doesn't justify her prominence.

Bernard (Gerard Depardieu, who else?) lives with his wife and child in a cozy country home. A couple moves into the house next door and, lo and behold, the beautiful Mathilde (Fanny Ardant, who later had a daughter with Truffaut) turns out to be Bernard's ex-lover from several years ago. They had an intense relationship that drove them both to the brink of madness. Bernard and Mathilde delay telling their partners about this awkward coincidence, but can't help immediately resuming their affair. This won't end well, will it?

The film is expertly directed with a classy Georges Delerue score, but there's a point where the emotional heat takes a radical jump that seems too sudden and not entirely motivated. Depardieu and Ardant don't have much chemistry, and a few flashbacks might have helped their story's impact. And Veronique Silver is fine as an older, maternal friend whose crippled leg foreshadows the danger of all-consuming desire, but she never becomes vital to the plot and draws far too much screen time. Meanwhile, the spouses of Bernard and Mathilde are underwritten and barely make an impression. Odd. With a better focused script, this could have been a great film.
½ January 10, 2012
Supposedly a story of how true love stays and drives people mad, but the film is both overwrought and overly cold. It's partially due to the explanation of emotional motivations but no real feeling for them and also because the reactions aren't very believable.
½ September 3, 2011
Mon dieu, ¡que lío! :-O
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2011
Depardieu wears this one really great sweater in this movie.
½ July 25, 2011
"Ni avec toi, ni sans toi."
July 24, 2011
too much lust will kill ya in the end!

watch it cos it's a truffaut. and for a young, stunning fanny ardant.
½ September 27, 2010
That movie camera of Truffaut, adores Fanny Ardant' face. Lovely pictures of a dead end relationship. It surely didnt blew up my mind as five star Last Tango in Paris.
½ July 28, 2010
Despite its commonplace plot, it manages to hold the viewer captive. Ardant is extraordinary.
½ May 9, 2010
"Love stories must have a beginning, a middle, and an end."
January 21, 2010
How frustrating that some of Truffaut's films are these amazing, vibrant, lovely experiences, but so many of them are Just Plain Movies. Except for a couple of inspired moments there's no zing to this one, no spark. As a tale of romantic obsession, it does the job, but that's the thing: it feels like just another job for Truffaut. Bernard and Matilde are somehow incomplete and inaccessible. There are some tidbits of insight, but not much you haven't seen before. Satisfactory but unremarkable.
January 3, 2010
Six years before [Fatal Attraction] coming out in Hollywood, Francois Truffaut had made this outstanding piece already.
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