Francois Truffaut’s dramatization of the true story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of French author-in-exile Victor Hugo, and her romantic obsession with a young French officer is a cinematically beautiful and emotionally wrenching portrait of a headstrong but unstable young woman. Adele (Isabelle Adjani, whose pale face gives her the quality of a cameo portrait) travels under a false name and spins a half-dozen false stories about herself and her relationship to Lieutenant Pinson (Bruce Robinson), the Hussar she follows to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Pinson no longer loves her, but she refuses to accept his rejection. Sinking farther and farther into her own internal world, she passes herself off as his wife and pours out her stormy emotions into a personal journal filled with delusional descriptions of her fantasy life. Beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros in vivid color, Truffaut’s re-creation of the 1860s is accomplished not merely in impressive sets and locations but in the very style of the film: narration and voiceovers, written journal entries and letters, journeys and locations established with map reproductions, and a judicious use of stills mix old-fashioned cinematic technique with poetic flourishes. The result is one of Truffaut’s most haunting portraits, all the more powerful because it’s true.
Language(s):French | English