Rent La Vérité (1960)

3.8 of 5 from 70 ratings
2h 6min
Rent La Vérité (aka The Truth) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Beautiful, troubled Dominique Marceau (Brigitte Bardot) came to bohemian Paris to escape the suffocation of provincial life, only to wind up in a courtroom, accused of a terrible crime: the murder of her lover (Sami Frey). As the trial commences and the lawyers begin tangling over Dominique's fate, the Oscar-nominated 'La Vérité', directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique), delves into her past, reconstructing her struggle to find a foothold in the city. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of an impulsive young woman misunderstood and mistreated by those around her, and of her ultimately tragic affair with an up-and-coming conductor.
With an astonishing performance by Bardot, Clouzot's affecting and intricately constructed film - a huge late-career success for the French master - renders a harsh verdict against a hypocritical and moralistic society.
, , , , , Jean-Loup Reynold, , , , , , , , , , , Simone Berthier, , ,
Raoul Lévy
Henri-Georges Clouzot, Simone Drieu, Michèle Perrein, Jérôme Géronimi, Christiane Rochefort, Véra Clouzot
The Truth
Classics, Drama
A Brief History of the Tradition of Quality
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
126 minutes
Release Date:
Run Time:
128 minutes
French LPCM Mono
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.66:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • 'Le scandale Clouzot', a sixty-minute documentary from 2017 on director Henri-Georges Clouzot
  • Interview from 1960 with Clouzot
  • Interview with actor Brigitte Bardot from the 1982 documentary 'Brigitte Bardot telle qu'elle'

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Reviews (1) of La Vérité

Music in Cafés at Night - La Vérité review by CH

Spoiler Alert

“Simone de Beauvoir is not on trial!” So proclaims the defence lawyer (Charles Vanel) when her name is mentioned during a murder trial, his client Brigitte Bardot in the dock of a crowded courthouse which is partly the setting for La vérité (1960).

The author's name had been mentioned as part of a reflection upon the way in which women are oppressed in society, with catastrophic results. That reference might lead some to recall that Simone de Beauvoir had written a long, philosophical article in 1959 for Esquire about Bardot, soon reprinted as a paperback book.

Bardot, to her own horror, was everywhere as the Fifties became the Sixties, but one might now ask how many watch those films then thought sensational. (John Lennon had a photograph of her on his Liverpool wall and encouraged his future wife to dress like her.) To miss La vérité, though, would be a tremendous shame: it shows how very good she could be. Directed by Henri-George Clouzot (he of half-a-dozen masterpieces such as The Wages of Fear), it was created, from true-life inspiration, by him and several other screenwriters (with sections suggested by Bardot herself). This befits a film which cuts from the court room to the several strands of a narrative which lands Bardot with her hands on the wooden dock as she gives vent and has to be silenced by the Judge.

The magnificent black and white cinematography brings out the shades of grey which make something complex of the gunshots of subsequent events. (One might also think, around that time, of Ruth Ellis in Hampstead and of that great film with Diana Dors, Yield to the Night.) Put simply, Bardot has joined her sister (Marie-José Nat) in a Parisian rooming house where they share a room which one of them has to vacate when matters amatory are in prospect.

Location scenes catch so well this era in Paris: streets with cars as curved as many of those on the pavements; strolls from one night-time café to another (topically, one is called Le Spoutnik); television screens are watched through shop windows; one almost expects a glimpse of Sartre struggling to re-light his pipe - but there isn't. Into the fray comes Sami Frey, a handsome student of conducting. His affections volley between Bardot and her sister; that love triangle has to take second place to the podium of an orchestra whose work includes some forcefully rendered Stravinsky.

Here ensue rows worthy of Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee. The walls of these humble rooms close in, before cutting back to the expanse of the court room where the two lawyers engage in jousting which parallels those rows (Paul Meurisse for the prosecution). All this is as free-flowing as the emergent New Wave, so much so that, afterwards, it is a surprise to find that the film has lasted well over two hours. No scene is superfluous.

Bardot, like Marilyn, could bring tremendous resources to the screen when the likes of Clouzot and Wilder were behind their cameras. A process which, on set, could be as fraught as any of those encounters which make La vérité an enduring reflection upon the way in which passion can dwindle into a power struggle with so many in its wake.

As for John Lennon, it is said that in the late-Sixties he and Bardot briefly met but, one way and another, communication was hopeless: “worse than meeting Elvis.”

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