There's a practical matter-of-factness to the way Chabrol handles the material; focusing in on the small details of human interaction; the seemingly trivial relationships. The effect numbs the audience to the underlining emotional instability; the routines & repetitions of characters leaving us ill-prepared for the inevitable fury of its final act. The result is like Hitchcock by way of Bresson. The work of a master.
Go into this without reading anything! The scene when they fall into bed giggling made my jaw drop, the best part. The performances are of course the center of this and amazing. Sophie's face when she finds ways of keeping her secret! Killed me. Chabrol + crew have such a genius for shooting interiors and for color/pattern, like a Bonnard or a Vuillard with a 90s (and earlier, 80s) palette.
Perhaps THE great film about malevolence & how inherent it is in nature. Sallitt is profoundly right: LA CEREMONIE feels quite perfect, but quite depressing. Its thesis, which Chabrol does not refute, has everything to do with man's capacity to harm. Chabrol has an uncanny ability of establishing ominousness by way of precise camera movement & punctual shot juxtaposition. The aesthetic is close to MARNIE at times.