Guy Austin
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The Hélène cycle
in Claude Chabrol
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The Hélène cycle, strictly speaking, comprising La Femme infidèle, Que la bète meure, Le Boucher, La Rupture and Juste avant la nuit, sees Stéphane Audran cast repeatedly in the central role as the often inscrutable Hélène. It is characteristic of Claude Chabrol, particularly in the carefully crafted Hélène cycle, to include in his films miniature versions of the main narrative. Barely used before Chabrol's period of technical experimentation in the mid-1960s spy films, zooms are central to his film style in the Hélène cycle. L'Express, Le Nouvel Observateur and Cahiers du cinéma all remained blind to the sly critique of the bourgeoisie in films such as Les Biches and La Femme infidèle. They chose instead to detect in Chabrol's work a celebration of the middle classes. La Rupture crystallises the melodramatic tendencies of the Hélène cycle and the inter-class tensions implicit in Les Biches and Le Boucher.

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