Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Sexy upper-class blonde Frederique (Stephane Audran) sees a waifish sidewalk painter named Why (Jacqueline Sassard) at work and tosses a 500 franc note down in front of her. They stroll and chat a bit, then Frederique takes Why home, gives a her bath, and one thing leads to another. The two head off to Frederique's summer place at St. Tropez where they share a house with two gay guys (it took me a while to figure this out; they seemed like just fun-loving whimsical friends at first) who alternate between being charming and being irritating. One night, an attractive man named Paul (Jean-Louis Trintignant) makes eyes at Why and takes her home. The jealous Frederique then sets her cap for Paul, playing a flirtatious game with him which causes him to miss a date with Why. The game-playing gets to be too much for Why who begins to snap, making herself up to look like Frederique and talking to herself in the mirror. One drunken night, Paul is flirting with both women, calling them his "does" (hence the title, which has nothing to do with "bitches"), but it's Frederique he takes to bed, leaving Why outside the bedroom door, her obsessive thoughts building as she plans her revenge against Frederique. This is a sexy Hitchcockian thriller that deals with issues of sexual obsession, jealousy and identity, though in far more ambiguous ways that Hitch ever did; it's a little like Bergman's PERSONA done French new-wave style. The characters are mostly ciphers, with Paul being the one who comes off the most straightforward, and a little more background for the two women (pictured, Audran in front) would have helped humanize the characters—as it is, they all come off as game pieces being moved around by the director, Claude Chabrol. It's all very cold and brittle (the one exception being Dominique Zardi who seems to be having fun as one of the gay men), but the acting is good, particularly by Audran, and fans of psychological thrillers will find enough to enjoy here. [DVD]

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