Chabrol's film tells the fascinating true story of Marie (Huppert), a struggling French housewife during World War II. Married to Paul (Cluzet), a good-for-nothing drunk, Marie starts performing illegal abortions to make ends meet. Soon she has a thriving business; but as the rewards grow, so do the risks. When Marie is eventually betrayed to the hateful Vichy government, she goes on trial for life.
This wartime thriller is a fabulous showcase for Huppert's enormous talent: in the central role of Marie, she is neither fully sympathetic, nor completely loathsome. The actress took away the top prize at the Venice Film Festival for this nuanced portrayal. Director Chabrol does everything right to bring off this tragic tale, portraying the oppressive tension of French citizens living under the Nazi boot, and the quiet desperation of one woman willing to risk everything for a measure of comfort in a world gone mad. Here's one "Story" well told.