Friday, 10 August 2012

Analysis on selected movie-Les Bonnes Femmes

Les Bonnes Femmes

Film poster. Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol, 1960).
Retrieved from

Claude Chabrol is one of the most widely appreciated directors of the French New Wave. His films contributed to the movement through his pioneering cinematic elements. In the 1960’s he made a well known film entitled Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol, 1960) and it really portrayed Chabrol’s style in cinema through its loose film structure. In this film, Chabrol kept the viewers minds open to interpretation with almost every given scene.

Les Bonnes Femmes is about four attractive young Parisians who work together in an electric appliance store. They are Jane, Ginette, Rita and Jacqueline. They spend their free time looking for love and fulfillment with little success. Jane is a high-spirited girl and she picked up by two lechers who are only interested in the one thing. Ginette loves singing but she didn’t let her friends know that she is singing Italian songs in a second-rate theatre, so she tries to escape. Rita is engaged to a man who appears more concerned with pleasing his parents than caring about her. Jacqualine, demurely permits herself to be followed everywhere by a motorcyclist.

Les Bonnes Femmes had extremely dark angles and undertones. The non-conformity of the storyline compared to traditional cinema was demonstrated through a promiscuous cast, gendered role reversals, and dramatic irony. The dramatic irony stems from the blossoming relationship between Jacqueline and the man on the motorcycle as we have uneasy feeling towards his character from get-go. Below I will show a part which I retrieved from Les Bonnes Femmes.

Unlike the controlled studio sound stage and back lot shooting that characterized Hollywood filmmaking during this era, the French New Wave directors were dedicated to shooting in natural locations and using natural lighting as much as possible. Sound was also recorded live on the scene, which was unusual during this era. In this film we can see that the director shoot in the natural locations such as on the street and the natural lighting so the scene become quite dark sometimes.

One notable technique to emerge from the French New Wave was the jump cut, in which two discontinuous images are juxtaposed. While jumps cuts are regularly used in film and television editing today, at the time, they were very jarring to audiences, who were used to a smooth flow of images onscreen, rather than to editing that calls attention to itself. We can see there was a jump cut when Jane and Jacqueline with the two lechers in the restaurant then suddenly jump to the party.

Besides, there has stronger female character found in Les Bonnes Femmes. We can see that the modern life of four shopgirls with everyday life complications. The cast is constructed of multiple women who have very contrasting personalities. Rita is engaged to a young suitor with delusions that he is “the one”, Jane is suspiciously care-free in her actions hiding the emptiness of her life, Ginette moonlights at a nightclub behind the other girls back, and Jacqueline who is the timid and meek voice of reason is lured into the seductive mystery man's arms unconsciously and illogically. All of the women have big dreams lifting them higher than their current mediocre lives.


Pramaggiore & Wallis (March, 2011). ‘Breaking the rules: The French New Wave and its Influence’, Film: A Critical Introduction 3rd Edition, USA & Canada. Allyn & Bacon: pp.215-217.

Hayward, Susan (2006) ‘French New Wave/ Nouvelle Vague’, Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts 3rd Edition, Oxon, Routledge: pp. 165-170.

Kolker, Robert (2001) ‘Chapter 5: The Stories Told by Film’, Film Form, and Culture, New York, McGraw-Hill: pp. 199-200.

Claude Chabrol (Director & Producer). 1960. Les Bonnes Femmes. France.

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