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5.0 1
Director: Patrice Chéreau, Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Raina Kabaivanska

Cast: Patrice Chéreau, Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Raina Kabaivanska

A seemingly ideal marriage is thrown into embarrassing turmoil in Patrice Chéreau's period drama, Gabrielle. Based on the short story The Return by Joseph Conrad, the film opens with Jean (Pascal Greggory) extolling the virtues of his pretty wife, Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert), in voice-over as he makes his way home from work. Jean and his wife, with help


A seemingly ideal marriage is thrown into embarrassing turmoil in Patrice Chéreau's period drama, Gabrielle. Based on the short story The Return by Joseph Conrad, the film opens with Jean (Pascal Greggory) extolling the virtues of his pretty wife, Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert), in voice-over as he makes his way home from work. Jean and his wife, with help from their team of servants, have fostered the illusion of a perfect bourgeois household. Jean is particularly happy with the way Gabrielle presents herself at the couple's frequent dinner gatherings, attended by their "set," whom, as he describes them, "fear emotion and failure more than war." We see glimpses of these occasions in flashback, while Jean explains of his wife, "I'm proud of what she is -- impassive." The secure little world he's fashioned for himself is shattered when he arrives home and finds a note from Gabrielle, explaining that she's leaving him. "It's terrible, and right," the missive states. After a brief explosion of rage, Jean tries to compose himself, but he's thrown into chaos again when Gabrielle unexpectedly returns home. She finds it impossible to speak to Jean. "This letter is not the worst of it?" he asks her. "The worst is my coming back," she explains. The two struggle bitterly to regain the balance in their relationship. Soon, in the interest of appearances, another dinner party is planned. Gabrielle, switches from black-and-white to color and back from scene to scene, and is also notable for its intriguing use of intertitles. It was adapted by Chéreau and his frequent collaborator, Anne-Louise Trividic, and was shown at the 2005 New York Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Product Details

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Special Features

Interview with Patrice Chéreau, Isabelle Huppert, and Pascal Greggory; Deleted scenes with Patrice Chéreau commentary

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Isabelle Huppert Gabrielle
Pascal Greggory Jean
Raina Kabaivanska Actor
Claudia Coli Actor
Chantal Neuwirth Actor
Thierry Fortineau Actor
Louise Vincent Actor
Clement Hervieu-Leger Actor
Nicolas Moreau Actor
Rinaldo Rocco Actor
Xavier Lafitte Actor
Mai David Actor
Jeanne Henry Actor
Aude Leger Actor
Thierry Hancisse Actor
Claire Gibault Conductor

Technical Credits
Patrice Chéreau Director,Screenwriter
Newine Béhi Camera Operator
Pascal Beraud Casting
Serge Catoire Producer
Caroline de Vivaise Costumes/Costume Designer
Ferdinanda Frangipane Producer
Antoine Garceau Asst. Director
Éric Gautier Cinematographer
François Gedigier Editor
Mirta Guarnaschelli Casting
Benoit Hillebrant Sound/Sound Designer
Olivier Dô Húu Sound/Sound Designer
Joseph Conrad Original Story
Claire Nicol Camera Operator
Olivier Radot Art Director
Guillaume Sciama Sound/Sound Designer
Joseph Strub Producer
Nguyen Thi-Thanh-Thu Makeup
Anne-Louise Trividic Screenwriter
Fabio Vacchi Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Gabrielle
1. Cold Stare of Achievement [10:01]
2. Meeting Gabrielle [7:22]
3. A Mistake [8:11]
4. Nervous Blush [5:27]
5. Slow to Feel [12:22]
6. Silent Suffering [7:29]
7. Making Progress [5:32]
8. An Announcement [8:40]
9. Desperate Acts [8:17]
10. Wake of Violence [5:45]
11. Without Love [7:29]
12. Credits [3:28]


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Gabrielle 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Patrice Chéreau is one of the giants of entertainment, whether in his direction of operas (his Wagner RING remains a gold standard), plays, or his films. He is a thoroughgoing artist, one who combines great intellect with a keen ear for music, camera movement, atmosphere, the spoken and unspoken word, and for accompanying some of the finest actors at work today in their realization of his visions. GABRIELLE is a case in point and for this viewer this is simply one of the strongest films to come out of France - a country much celebrated for its cinematic genius - in many years. Inspired by Joseph Conrad's short story 'The Return' and adapted as a screenplay by Anne-Louise Trividic and Chéreau, the story is a brief history of a married couple whose ten-year marriage alters in one afternoon and evening - the time span of the film. Jean Hervey (Pascal Greggory) is a handsome man of wealth who 'acquired' a wife Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert) ten years ago. They live in a mausoleum of magnificent art and base their existence on the glamorous parties attended by the artists and patrons of the arts in turn of the century Paris. Jean's 'acquisition' of Gabrielle included the understanding that they would have no intimacy: they do sleep in the same bedroom but in separate beds. Their marriage seems perfect - but it is hollow. Rather abruptly Gabrielle leaves a note on the dresser addressed to Jean, a note that states she has left him for a man: her need for sexual gratification has risen to the breaking point. Jean is devastated, but as he nurses his broken glass-injured hand Gabrielle returns: she could not go through with ending the marriage of convenience. The two have extended verbal exchanges and physical abuse but it is only to the servants that Gabrielle shares her true feelings. She decides to structure her marriage to Jean by submitting to him sexually, a status that is novel to their marriage, and it is this role reversal of the masculine/feminine state that sends Jean panicked into the night. Chéreau uses many techniques to render this story about intimacy (or the lack thereof) that strongly support the power of the film: sections are in black and white representing the way things appear and are structured to the planned observation Raina Kabaivanska plays and sings at a soirée (she is an actual opera star) Jean's staff of servants is only women instead of the usual mix of men and women the musical score by the brilliant Italian contemporary composer Fabio Vacchi is used as a 'character' instead of background support and the camera work by cinematographer Eric Gautier uses a full cinemascope camera set up to add weight to the project. But none of these subtleties would have worked so perfectly without the brilliance of acting of Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Greggory. They find the core of these strange characters and allow us to understand the rather warped psyches of the pair. It is a feat of genius. As an added DVD feature there is an extended conversation with Chéreau, Huppert and Greggory about the film from the intial idea to the finished product and hearing these three brilliant artists share their insights is for once extremely additive to the film. This rather dark and brooding film may be a bit too static for some, but for lovers of cinematic art it is a complete triumph to experience. Grady Harp