Friday, August 14, 2015

Que la bête meure

1969, France, directed by Claude Chabrol

Very impressive, with an especially strong Chabrolian signature -- a blend of suspense, clear-eyed moral inquiry, and merciless dissection of the bourgeoisie, or, perhaps even more to the point, of the aspiring bourgeoisie. The apéritif scene before Jean Yanne makes his first appearance is absolutely exquisite in its sense of life-sapping awkwardness, the camera constantly probing the gathering, and the whole thing capped with a wonderful, lacerating shot of the mother, her face alight as her dreadful son arrives home. Jean Yanne really did play some awful people in the late 1960s/early 1970s; you can understand why he might have elected to go in a rather lighter direction later on. Yanne's character is also an extremely recognizable French type -- not necessarily in the outer reaches of his behaviour, but the kind of guy who truly believes he knows everything and dismisses those around them, even those who are his ostensible friends (the muttered asides about the absent boat-builder, for instance). 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States