Country : Italy / France
Medium : Colour
Duration : 110'
Video : TF1 Vidéo
Production : Film par film / SEDIF / Jean-Louis Livi
Scenario : Yves Angelo and Jean Cosmos after Honoré de Balzac
Screenplay : Jean Cosmos
Music : Domenico Scarlatti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert
Director of photography : Bernard Lutic
Plot : Madame Chabert, after receiving official confirmation that her husband had died at Eylau, remarries, this time to Count Ferraud, a man of ability and boundless ambition. But a stranger who claims to be Colonel Chabert demands an explanation from this woman who all too easily forgot him. With the help of his lawyer Derville and the dishonest proposition of Chamblin, Colonel Chabert shatters the couple's peaceful existence.
Cast : Gérard Depardieu (Colonel Chabert) ; Fanny Ardant (Rose Chabert - Ferraud) ; Fabrice Luchini (Maître Derville) ; André Dussollier (Count Ferraud) ; Claude Rich (Chamblin) ; Daniel Prévost (Boucard) ; Romane Bohringer (Sophie) ; Patrick Bordier (Boutin) ; Jacky Nercessian (Delbecq) ; Éric Elmosnino (Desroches) ; Alain Delpy (the notary) ; Jean Cosmos (Costaz) ; Julie Depardieu (a lady in waiting)
Extract : « Ferraud. - The Comtesse Ferraud is irreproachable. She is a good mother and a good wife. I owe her a great deal.
A friend. - But we are not talking about her personally, Armand. We all know your mutual feelings in that respect. We're talking about what she represents, the principles she represents, her past. All that fortune gained during the Empire. Have you forgotten what our friends suffered under the usurper ?
Chamblin. - That pretty woman was at all the dances, she danced with all the marshals who cleaned our boots, she bowed before the Little Corporal himself. [...] It would be foolish to imagine that one can run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. You have to make a decision, my dear boy. But be clinical about it. A clean cut. Look at Talleyrand: his wife was a fool - she got her marching orders. Look at the Ogre himself. Josephine was sterile - she had to pack her bags. »
Review : The film is excellent, from the battle reconstruction in Poland, the magnificent Château de Valençay, and the realistic fighting, up to Depardieu's terrifying 'Beethoven-esque' Chabert and perfect performances by Luchini, Dussollier and Rich. Yves Angelo's remarkable decision to replay some of the texts and shots used by René Le Hénaff in the 1943 version is completely vindicated. The film grabs the viewer's attention from beginning to end. This is Balzac at his best !