Henri-Georges Clouzot’s La Verite was quite a few things rolled into one – courtroom drama, searing social critique, dark depiction of love gone awry, and the sad tale of a misunderstood girl, among others. Dominique Marceau (Brigitte Bardot) is accused of murdering Gilbert (Sami Frey), her former boyfriend, and is on trial to determine her fate. Her seemingly sordid lifestyle stand in direct contrast to the picture-perfect perception of a model citizen that Gilbert continues to possess even after her death. Their socio-economic disparity, compounded by her inherently rebellious nature vis-à-vis his social standing as a talented music conductor, make the heavily biased judges convinced of her guilt; her striking good looks make their presumption of guilt complete. But nothing could be further from the truth as elaborate flashback sequences reveal not just her freewheeling choices in life – something that her middle-class parents and the conservative judges find impossible to accept, leave alone understand – but also the deeply tragic love affair she gets hopelessly enmeshed and burnt by. As a sad consequence, she is tried by a staunchly bourgeois society for her rebellious spirit and her anti-establishmentarian choices, as opposed to the crime she has been accused of. Brigitte Bardot, the reigning sexpot of her generation, didn’t just memorably play the role of the protagonist, she seemed to be ironically the very embodiment of what her character symbolized; and her sensuousness was as electric, as her vulnerability was heartbreaking. Though neither flawless nor subtle, the engaging narrative style made this beautifully photographed and scored movie both a compelling character study and a bleak observation on society’s hypocritical responses to deviation.
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Genre: Crime Drama/Romantic Drama/Courtroom Drama/Psychological Drama