Story of Women

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Story of Women
DVD cover
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Produced by Marin Karmitz
Written by Colo Tavernier
Claude Chabrol
Francis Szpiner (book)
Starring Isabelle Huppert
François Cluzet
Nils Tavernier
Music by Matthieu Chabrol. Additional music : La Chanson du maçon, music by Henri Betti
Cinematography Jean Rabier
Edited by Monique Fardoulis
Distributed by MK2 Diffusion (France)
New Yorker Films (USA)
Release date
  • 15 February 1988 (1988-02-15)
Running time
108 minutes
Country France
Language French

Story of Women (French: Une affaire de femmes) is a 1988 French drama film directed by Claude Chabrol based on the true story of Marie-Louise Giraud, guillotined on July 30, 1943, for having performed 27 abortions in the Cherbourg area, and the book by Francis Szpiner.

The film premiered at the 45th Venice International Film Festival, in which Isabelle Huppert was awarded the prize for best actress.[1] It has been cited as a favorite by filmmaker John Waters, who presented it as his annual selection within the 2008 Maryland Film Festival.


Under the German military administration in occupied France during World War II. Paul Latour is a prisoner of war in Germany and his wife Marie lives hand-to-mouth with their two children in a squalid flat. A neighbour, whose husband is also in Germany, has fallen pregnant and is trying to lose the baby. Marie helps her, successfully. Other women come to her and she starts charging. While talking with Paul one night, she reveals that a fortune teller saw "nothing but good things" in her future, along with a lot of women, which she wouldn't clarify, but alluded to her abortion activities. Marie also confessed to wanting to be a famous singer.

Despite her husbands return, she will not resume relations. She sees him as emasculated, and less than a man. Although he cannot find work, he rents a bigger flat so that the two can have some privacy. Marie not only has more space for her illicit business but lets a prostitute use a room during the day. She also starts a daytime affair with a collaborator.

When one of the abortions goes wrong, the woman dies and her despairing husband commits suicide. Marie shrugs off the tragedy and hires a maid to help, suggesting that part of her duties can be to sleep with Paul. After returning home early and witnessing Marie and her lover asleep together, he sends an anonymous denunciation to the police, alerting them of her illegal activities.

A recent law of the Vichy régime, determined to enforce morality and stop population decline, has made abortion a treasonable crime. Marie is condemned to death and guillotined. Before being arrested, she visits a music teacher, who tells her that she was a great voice, fulfilling both prophecies of the fortune teller.

Selected cast[edit]


In 1988, Isabelle Huppert won the Best Actress award at the Valladolid International Film Festival and the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival. In 1989, the film won the Golden Precolumbian Circle at the Bogota Film Festival, the LAFCA Award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the NBR Award at the National Board of Review, USA and the NYFCC Award at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. In 1990 it won the Sant Jordi Award, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Film and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ermanno Olmi Wins Prize At Venice Film Festival". New York Times. September 10, 1988. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 

External links[edit]