Friday, March 02, 2007

Revisit: Le Boucher

A Cinerama Releasing Corporation release 1971

Written & Directed by Claude Chabrol

Butcher Popaul (Jean Yanne) falls in love with schoolteacher Helene (St├ęphane Audran). When a series of murders begin to disrupt the town, Helene begins to suspect Popaul.

An extremely simple yet highly effective thriller. The Hitchcockian story leaves much ambiguity; we never see the crimes, nor are they discussed at great length. Rather we are given a series of clues to link the Butcher to the murders, creating an undercurrent of tension leading to his confession. Helene's inability to confess her knowledge of the clues culminates in the final scene, in which she contemplates the events at the edge of a foggy river. It makes you wonder whether or not Helene took pleasure in the killings; a sort of bizzare quasi-sexual ambiguity linked with the violence. Not a second is wasted - each scene is rich with visual and verbal metaphors that further story while strengthing the bond between the two protagonists. Le Boucher is essentially a perfect film.

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