The director’s misanthropic wit treats the thriller characters as something close to comic types and turns the town into a carousel of caricatures; accusations go ‘round and ’round against the backdrop of André Andrejew’s carefully detailed production design.
One of the most perceptive visual diatribes on the nascent resentment that awaits a precipitaing event to trigger its cancerous secretion into the social fabric. The swift dialogues, the mismatch between passion and trauma, the moral hypocrisy and the predatory collective instincts ready to scapegoat victims, weave a surgically accurate psychological thriller, superbly acted and in all respects hauntingly disturbing!
Germain is not exactly a sympathetic character, despite what is happening to him. It's probably due to his lack of sympathy and the air of superiority he carries. Which is often what people with secrets do. Everyone seems to have secrets, and the film twists and turns up until the very end, where a kind of justice prevails.
It seems unlikely that Clouzot could be one of Chabrol's parents since he was slipped into the "cinéma de papa" bag, being not exactly a reference for the filmmakers related to Nouvelle Vague. And yet, this chronic of bourgeois pettiness is so Chabrolian that impresses its existence "avant la lettre". If
bourgeois are like pigs, some cinema that swept them is not, because the more time passes, the more it refines.
Excellent psychological drama scores with a razor sharp screenplay that deftly balances the complexities of its engrossing characters. There were moments that could have been played with a bit more tension rather than cold detachment, but that's a debatable creative choice. A classic.
A dark, bitter masterpiece that's not only a damn fine thriller but a bold evisceration of Vichy France. Respected authority figures are exposed as villains, the Vichy ideal of the respectable family woman is undermined, and of course, the plot involving anonymous letters speaks to the reality of paranoia and denunciation prominent during the Occupation.