Now this is the kind of plot I wish all movies had--it keeps the audience constantly on their toes. Every scene is densely packed and implicates the audience in our own improper rush to judgement. The morality lessons are multi-faceted. The grim subject matter (abortion, gangrene, cancer, petty theft, drug addiction, vicious gossip..) makes for a realistic small town atmosphere. No sugar-coating of humanity here!
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.