Lois Alter Mark
February 01, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Story of Women

Current Status
In Season
Francois Cluzet, Isabelle Huppert
Claude Chabrol
Foreign Language, Drama

We gave it an A

In Story of Women, director Claude Chabrol’s disturbing true story of life in occupied France, provincial housewife Marie Latour (Isabelle Huppert) becomes an abortionist to make ends meet. Believing ”it can’t be harder than anything else,” she turns her kitchen into an operating room to ”do a favor” for a friend. Her grateful patient presents her with a photograph, and Marie realizes she’s stumbled upon a lucrative business. The state, though, is not as appreciative of her services. Under the guise of morality, the Vichy government, which shrugs off the slaughter of Jews and resisters, sentences her to die.

Huppert, who won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance, is chillingly perfect as the emotionally detached abortionist. Her Marie is not a heroic feminist crusader acting on her convictions, but merely a self-absorbed opportunist trying to outwit poverty. By carefully avoiding sentimentality, the film becomes a haunting history lesson rather than one woman’s personal story.

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