I’m really unsure of how to tackle this one. The Story of Women (though the French title, Une Affaire de Femmes, translates more accurately as ‘Women’s Business’) deals with one of the last women in French history to be sent to the guillotine, and in that alone it seems it would make for a compelling enough story for a film. Well, it seemed it would; the end product seems to have no qualms about laying that expectation by the side of the road and simply leaving it there. Once again, I must say, it’s not because this is a bad film; it was just so… uninteresting. Bland. It never got me involved whatsoever; it was almost neorealistic, that’s how little I seemed to care.
Now, right off the bat, I should mention the one thing that was, in fact, rather exemplary; Isabelle Huppert, the lead of the film, gives a very naturalistic and expressive performance, that of the true story of a housewife in Nazi-occupied France, who beleagueredly becomes an abortionist, performing 27 of them, something that was illegal during the wartime era of the country, and for which she would be found guilty and guillotined for. Huppert, however, was the only thing that was even remotely interesting during the almost two hour running time of this one; there was quite enough plot for the whole thing, but none of it seemed all that… enticing. There was no real reason to watch the film, and the entertainment value was extremely flat, if it was even there at all, and both of those combined in one film meant that I had an especially rough time getting through this one. As such, and because the film is so neorealistic, I’m left with very little to say about it; other than its main star, there really isn’t anything that juts out enough at you for you to take notice, which while being a good thing in certain ways, also means it is essentially a featureless wall for you to just stare at.
Throughout many of the films I’ve watched from the list, I’ve been initially stymied as to why the film is seen as such a classic and must-see, but by the end of the film it has been made readily apparent to me; that “x factor” has kicked in, and I am ultimately thankful for the experience. The Story of Women was exactly like that, but without the concluding payoff; I spent the whole time wondering why I was watching this film instead of something more interesting, or hell, even something better, and the film never gave me an actual reason otherwise. As solid as the film was, it’s actually rather sad to say how disappointed I felt at the whole thing, and to say I saw no real reason for this to be on the list is to hammer one more unnecessary nail in the coffin. Huppert was very good, but other than that, there’s really no good reason to sit through this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10