The façade of good manners and appearances is gradually broken down when perversity slips into the life of a respectible family from a good background that seems to have everything arranged perfectly.
André, a famous concert pianist, marries Mika, director of a chocolate factory. He has a son from his first marriage, Guillaume. The three of them live in a beautiful house in the country near Lausanne. Everything seems to be in order, completely normal. But this is a Chabrol film and he is a master of unmasking the bourgeoisie. So, after a quick sketch of the situation and characters, the director starts to demolish the façade of good manners and superficial appearances bit by bit.Starting with the arrival of Jeanne, a beautiful 18-year-old who suspects that she was swapped with another baby in hospital just after they were born, namely with Guillaume. Jeanne, who happens to have a talent for playing the piano, looks up André, who then treats her like his protégée. He takes her into his family and makes sure she gets lessons from the best teachers. Guillaume feels neglected and Mika politely does her best to accept the situation.As the story develops, all certainties are further eroded. Chabrol digs under the surface to expose suppressed tensions. Not in a grotesque way, as for instance François Ozon did in Sitcom. Chabrol is more the master of small gestures and intonations, of almost unnoticed interactions between his characters. The family, traditionally a solid foundation in society, turns out not to be able to cope with this sneaky perversity. —IFFR
Widely credited as the founding father of the French Nouvelle Vague movement, Claude Chabrol is responsible for a body of work that is as prolific as it is boldly defined. A master of the suspense thriller, Chabrol approaches his subjects with a cold, distanced objectivity that has led at least one critic to liken him to a compassionate but unsentimental god viewing the foibles and follies of his creations. Inherent in all of Chabrol’s thrillers is the observation of the clash between bourgeois value and barely-contained, oftentimes violent passion. This clash gives the director’s work a melodramatic quality that has allowed him to drift between the realm of the art film and that of popular entertainment.
Born in Paris on June 24, 1930, Chabrol was educated at the University of Paris, where he was a pharmacology student, and at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques. Following some military service, he developed an interest in the cinema and worked for a brief time in the publicity… read more