For his 50th film, acclaimed French director Claude Chabrol has crafted a mischievously entertaining comedy-thriller that combines suspense and humor with his trademark Hitchcockian flair. The film stars Isabelle Huppert as Betty, a stylish and seductive scam artist who lures conventioneers back to their hotel rooms, drugs them until they are sufficiently sedated, then reduces their bank accounts with the aid of her accomplice, a seasoned con artist named Victor (Michel Serrault). Betty and Victor seem to be something more than just business partners, however, and much of the film’s suspense, and humor, stems from their enigmatic relationship. Chabrol wrote this film expressly for Huppert and Serrault, and the two stars work superbly together. Huppert’s Betty almost simultaneously embodies the roles of disgruntled wife, affectionate daughter, scheming business associate and laconic lover, and Serrault proves equally convincing whether he’s acting like a father figure, a jealous lover or a ruthless schemer. When the two rendezvous at a resort in the Swiss Alps for their next scam, the ambiguous nature of their partnership reaches new heights after Betty introduces Victor to Maurice (François Cluzet), a corporate executive who may or may not be the victim of their next swindle. –SFIFF
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