Monday, 6 February 2012

The Butcher (1970) @ Le Boucher

"Hi. Fancy a foot-long?"
At a glance:
This 1970 Claude Chabrol effort is quietly delightful. I've only seen one other film of his - L'Enfer (1994) - and if these two are anythin to go by, this director to me dwells a lot on implied terror and personal relationships. It reminds me distinctly of Hitchcock in that sense because there is no straightforward throat-slashin nor heart-stoppin action sequences but more conceptual suspense. Like in Rope (1948), we wonder throughout the film if the corpse was even in the case while all the elaborate conversation surrounds it. The movie also reminds me of the original The Haunting (1963) in terms of texture and camerawork -it's always quiet and sometimes even sleepy but yet somehow chillin. Popaul (Jean Yanne), the titular character, works in a small French town by the countryside and meets local primary school headmistress Helene (Stéphane Audran) at a weddin. The pair become fast friends and their relationship begin to gather pace but always we see an air of uneasiness about them still. Casting further doubt on their progress are a series of murders taking place in the village with no identifiable suspects. Helene gets suspicious about Popaul but we are unsure of whether or not Popaul is indeed the wanted culprit.

Bad news on the doorstep:
As with all psychological thrillers, the ending may not always be satisfyin to the average thriller fan who expects some shockin twist or some profound message from it. To risk comparin Chabrol to Hitchcock again, I must say that there is no humour nor lightness to the film other that the sublime rural imagery. It is very much a film about two people, their interaction and the events surroundin them which might or might not change their relationship. The suspense lies not so much in what happens but rather how it happens.
Perennial wonderment:
If I wouldda made a better butcher than a writer.
Most memorable line:
If you never make love, you go crazy.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?Three and half stars. I recommend this little flick to viewers who would enjoy psychological thrillers made in the same vein as The Lady Vanishes (1938), Les Diaboliques (1955) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). Good music, too.
Bonus material: