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84 Ratings


La poison

Directed by Sacha Guitry
France, 1951


A peasant shares his mediocre life with a despised wife and a jug of wine. In consultation with a lawyer, he “confesses” the murder of his wife, then, armed with that barrister’s brilliant plan of defense, returns home to commit a crime for which he knows he will be acquitted,

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Poison Directed by Sacha Guitry
Even in an era of French cinema renowned for its films noirs, La poison struck a particularly somber note, with its potent cocktail of black humor, ferocious misogyny, and critique of the French justice system. At first sight, La poisonseems a radical departure from Guitry’s elegant boulevard plays and comic historical pageants, and yet it exhibits many of the auteur’s familiar traits, including a droll narrated credit sequence and the foregrounding of witty dialogue and brilliant acting.
August 22, 2017
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Such a blunt assessment of marriage via overt misogyny might be a tiresome punchline were Guitry out to affirm the sanctity of civil union by poking fun at his characters. Instead, La Poison funnels them through a practically Dostoyevskian gauntlet of philosophical debate over the license to murder one’s spouse. In turn, the increasing absurdity of the scenario reaches critical mass through a climax in which a court case is intercut with children holding a mock procession of the same events.
August 22, 2017
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One of Guitry’s late masterpieces, La Poison (1951), is available for streaming on FilmStruck – it was previously unavailable in any format in the U.S. A gleefully black comedy about dueling spouses who both dream of killing the other, it features a savagely funny performance by Michel Simon as a self-justifying murderer.
November 08, 2016
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