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La Truite

La Truite(1982)

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La Truite (1982, and a.k.a. The Trout) was the penultimate film directed by U.S. expatriate Joseph Losey (1909 - 1984). For Losey, it was a film that shared a similarity in style to some of his earlier films, like Eve (1962), The Servant (1963), Accident (1967), The Go-Between (1970), and Mr. Klein (1976), where the characters are victims of sexual relationships that carry damaging consequences. Based on Roger Vailland's novel and originally approached by Losey in the 1960's as an English film that was to have starred Brigitte Bardot, Charles Boyer, Simone Signoret, and Dirk Bogarde, La Truite ended up as a French production with two of its leading ladies; Isabelle Huppert, an actress whose frequent collaborations with Claude Chabrol have made her no stranger to films laden with sexual innuendo, and Jeanne Moreau, whose talents have graced over a hundred films and whose face is usually burned in the collective memory as that of the romantic focus in Jules and Jim (1962).

On its simplest level, La Truite follows the life of Frédérique (Huppert), a farm girl of modest origins working on a trout farm in the Jura mountain region that straddles France and Switzerland but who, as a sexually active young lady, finds herself being whisked about between Paris and Japan as several men vie for her attention. While Losey's film foregoes the three different points of view found in Vailland's book it does juggle three distinct settings that are meant to evoke a different time as well as place; Paris feels contemporary, Japan is a stand-in for the commercial future, and flashbacks to the trout farm in Switzerland relate, of course, to the past. The score is by musician Richard Hartley, who also worked on The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and who Losey credits for delivering one of the best scores put to any of his films. "I wanted very little music excepting source music," Losey says in Michel Ciment's book Conversations with Losey. "Frédérique's music was linked to water - the water of the Jura, the water of Japan, the water of fountain streams, trout breeding. He also gave me certain rhythms to which I shot." With that last observation in mind, fans of Losey's work might also notice that in La Truit there is, as Losey says himself, "less said verbally in this film than in any film I ever made. It relies more on images."

What La Truite has to say about gender politics and multi-national corporations are subtle when compared to its overt character clashes but ultimately more interesting and also what really help to achieve the director's goal of an enterprise that feels relatively timeless. In fact, Losey's use of Japan to epitomize a "futuristic economy" mirrors the recently lauded work of Sofia Coppola in Lost in Translation (2003), but Losey's sexual politics are much more convoluted and reach bleaker ends than anything seen in Coppola's vision of unmoored desires.

Home Vision Entertainment's dvd release of La Truite presents the color film in its widescreen ratio and also includes a filmography for Joseph Losey, and selected filmographies for both Huppert and Moreau.

For more information about La Truite, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order La Truite, go to TCM Shopping.

by Pablo Kjolseth