Diabolique | Chicago Reader

Diabolique

If you like basking in the star power of Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani as much as I do, you'll probably stick it out through this ludicrous and slack remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's nasty but effective 1955 thriller; otherwise you shouldn't go near this turkey. Set at an improbable boys school in Pennsylvania, where two teachers, one an ex-nun (Adjani) married to the sadistic headmaster (Chazz Palminteri), the other his mistress (Sharon Stone), plot the master's murder, this at no point shows us any character or situation that seems remotely believable. There's no evidence of any effort to adapt the story from 50s France to contemporary America. Indeed, thanks to the terrible script by Don Roos (Single White Female) and the floundering direction by Jeremiah Chechik (Benny & Joon), there's no evidence of any brain whatsoever behind the camera. The three lead actors are resourceful enough to keep us mildly interested anyway, but don't expect chills, suspense, or coherent narrative development; not even Kathy Bates as a wisecracking detective—a character not found in the original—can bring this twitching corpse to life. With Spalding Gray, Alan Garfield, and Adam Hann-Byrd.

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