Story of Women (1988)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama, War Drama, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 13, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - France  |  
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A quietly observed true-life tale, The Story of Women neatly avoids lionizing its central figure, based on Marie-Louise Girard, who was executed for performing illegal abortions in Vichy France. Marie is a woman with a practical disposition; when a friend asks Marie to help her terminate her pregnancy and the result is successful, Marie realizes that there is more to life than a loveless marriage to a husband suffering from shell shock. She is not, in short, a moral crusader, but a businesswoman, and her practicality extends to having an affair with a collaborator who can provide her with some measure of sexual pleasure. Rarely cracking even a tiny smile, Isabelle Huppert makes Marie a rather chilly character, but you can't help admiring her resourcefulness in the midst of a population that director Claude Chabrol portrays as either walking dead or opportunistic traitors. Standing up to the swinish Vichy authorities at the story's end, Marie finally comes off as a figure of dignity.