Word comes from France this morning that Claude Chabrlo, the most prolific of the French New Wave filmmakers, has died; he was 80. Along with Rohmer, Rivette, Truffaut and Godard, Chabrol was one of the young-gun Cahiers du Cinema critics who moved into filmmaking in the late 50s and early 60s; prior to his first film, he and Rohmer coauthored one of the first major studies of Hitchcock, beginning the serious reevaluations of The Master’s career (their piece is still assigned in cinema studies curricula). And to a greater extent than his colleagues, Chabrol’s films showed Hitchcock’s influence, both in terms of genre execution (see the wonderful self-conscious riff An Unfaithful Wife, from 1969, starring his then-spouse Stéphane_Audran), and overall sensibility. Whether helming genre fare or social dramedy, Chabrol took an attitude of wry equanimity towards the human behavior on display; A Girl Cut in Two, his penultimate feature and the last one to be distributed here, was sensitive to the ways in which Ludivine Sagnier’s titular weathergirl is controlled by her two lovers, but also worldly about the inevitable abuse of social, cultural, financial, intellectual, political power.
The Notebook is, as ever, your one-stop source for all the relevant reading on the topic; Chabrol’s deep, consistent oeuvre offers many points of entry.