Chabrol's best film and perhaps the best ever in the admittedly niche genre of romantic psychopathy. Set amidst the apparently unchanging verities of small town provincial France: surface calm, communal life and repressed, damaged individuals who - until they meet - have been unable to escape their pasts.
The school/Hélène's residence an ominous, doom-laden castle upon which a monster infringes, much of the film a sincere celebration of the strange exuberance of human behavior. A far more restrained form than that in LA RAPTURE from the same year, a climactic fever-dream thru dark, portentous roads where THIS man & THIS woman achieve an unexplainable realization of meaning between each other. The two leads are sacred.
Un film Hitchcockéen sans grandiloquence. Tout est placide, épais, rupestre. Une exactitude de la ruralité qui transpire. Quand l'homme des cavernes rencontre la belle. Simple ? Le film a un aspect très allusif, aucunement dirigé vers un twist qui fait reconsidérer toute l'intrigue. On reconsidère plutôt ce qui fait l'homme, ce qui fait l'amour... en dehors de toute raison, sinon celle d'une boucherie existentielle.
Provincial, understated psychological drama with an appealing - in both looks and personality - female lead. Chabrol's usual slow-burn approach gets tiresome quickly due to the male lead's inability to project the war trauma he keeps referencing verbally. Many have likened this to Hitchcock and found compelling psychological insights into a serial killer. Well, I didn't. Maybe it's just too mundane to spark interest.
My introduction to Chabrol and still one of my favourites from the peak of his powers in the late 60's early 70's. He ramps up tension from a simple scenario in a masterfully riveting way. Quietly menacing with an undercurrent of extreme danger, it's a steady slow burner which, with simple uncomplicated direction, creates a gripping and chilling thriller. Disturbing and compelling.
Anyone else feel the kid who couldn't figure out the train problem foreshadowed he would also become a serial killer like Popale, which could open a door to a sequel? Because I sure didn't. Whoever would think that is an idiot. But seriously, Popale is such a kid in this movie; calling Helene "Madamoiselle Helen", as if he was a pupil, trying to form a semblance of his former home after 15 years in foreign lands.
Calling it a thriller is not wrong but at the same time that's not the best term to describe this film... this term seems to evoke that scarry idea of a thriller. Le Boucher displays its beauty on its mise en scene which - thanks in a great deal to Audran's amazing work - carries its whole reason of being. A film which's very misterious and hard to classify.
This film quietly got under my skin and it took awhile to shake. It's not particularly suspenseful, nor is it in any way graphic. What caught hold of me is something that was not 'visible' for most of its runtime. Appearing to be somewhat routine & mundane, it's unease is felt in the murderer's simple, almost pathetic honesty in conflict with her denial & lonely isolation. I felt deeply sad for both of them.
There's a lot to like here, especially in the way Chabrol combines high art with the mainstream without catering to or alienating either group. However, the film really didn't pick up for me despite the great characters and situations. Also the cinematography was rather bland and stagy. Perhaps a second viewing might be helpful. I do look forward to seeing more Chabrol, but I'm not in any hurry.