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Landru aka. Bluebeard may not be one of Claude Chabrol's best films,
but it's still a good and interesting one that does a lot right. Landru
and his life and crimes are fascinating but infamously shocking and
complex, the film follows the subject very closely and deals with it
also in a way that entertains and interests. If you are interested in
Landru you're not going to be short-changed here and there's a good
deal to like judging it as a film too.
As with all Chabrol films, Landru looks great. The colour photography is very handsome and tasteful, the period costumes are sumptuous and evocative and the scenery nothing short of exquisite. Chabrol handles the atmosphere, cultures and environment of early 20th century Paris masterfully to the extent one feels like they're actually there in the era. He also directs beautifully with charm and tension, Landru's scenes with his victims are both charming and chilling like Landru himself(in how he managed to get women to fall for him while being such an irredeemable monster on the inside) and his crimes wrench the gut in how shocking they are(even if some details are still ambiguous). The way Landru's written is enjoyable on the whole too, considering the subject Landru could easily have been melodramatic but the script opts for the sly and sardonic approach and does so cleverly and wittily, without being too cartoonish, that the most acidic moments are very juicy and the most cynical parts bite. The cast are stellar, with a brilliant Charles Denner, who cuts a very magnetic presence, whether funny, cold-hearted, cynical, urbane or charm-on-the-surface, and even looks eerily like Landru. Some may find that Landru is like a cartoon figure here but to me that added to how chilling a person he was. Michèle Morgan, Danielle Darrieux, Juliette Mayniel and Catherine Rouvel are beguiling and poignant, not with a lot to do but you really care what happens to them and Stephane Audran also really comes to life.
The film's not without its problems, once Landru is captured the pace does slacken and the film loses its charm, the trial being on the tedious side rather than suspenseful and would have benefited from tighter pacing and more developed writing. What also would have helped was having Landru arrested a little earlier and dwelling a little less on his methods, the film covers them well enough and I did wish that the same amount of detail went a little more into the trial. The music is also a little intrusive at times as well. Overall, lesser Chabrol, and I did prefer Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux as a (loose?) version of the story, but still very interesting. The part of the film covering the arrest, trial and execution doesn't come over as strongly as the parts detailing his life and crimes but the look of the film, the atmosphere, the direction, most of the writing and the acting make it a most worthwhile film. 7/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Vivid, intense colors and nice recreation of the period (France during, and a little after, WWI) make "Landru" a visually pleasing movie. But dramatically it's flat, and when the title character is finally captured by the police and put on trial, the film instead of picking up the pace becomes more dull and interminable. It has a distinguished cast of women but most of them just blend together (except maybe Stephane Audran; you can tell Chabrol likes her more than the others, because her character escapes their grisly fate!). As for Landru himself, he has a distinctive cartoonish style (especially that extra-pointy beard) which makes it hard to understand why so many women fall under his charm so quickly - especially since his foppish "good manners" are ridiculously obvious. Apart from a handful of good moments, and of course its look, "Landru" must be one of Chabrol's biggest misfires - black comedy is apparently not his forte (see also "High Heels"). ** out of 4.
Faithful - but uninspired - account of the notorious Landru case, which
swept over post WWWI France.
The film follows the facts closely, from Henri Désiré Landru's "family life", seductions and murders to his trial and execution. Well if your objective was to get the main details of a famous serial murder case you will be satisfied. However a film lover could have expected something more fiery, more intense, more unsettling from Claude Chabrol than just that.
To tell the truth there is more to this movie than...just that. Indeed there are good production values, fine colours, slightly stylized settings and a stellar cast. Nevertheless, I couldn't help stifling a yawn now and then.
Why so? Maybe because such great ladies as Danielle Darrieux, Michèle Morgan, Mary Marquet, or Hildegard Knef are given almost nothing to do.Only Stéphane Audran stands out in the part of Landru's naïve young mistress, Fernande.
Charles Denner, on the other hand, oddly directed by Chabrol, is a physical lookalike of the "sieur de Gambais" but fails to deliver both charm and terror.
It looks as though Claude Chabrol ,who is so at ease with what I would call "domestic" monsters ( Jean Yanne in "Le Boucher" and "Que la Bête meure", Michel Bouquet in "La Femme infidèle" and several others )was petrified by his cold-hearted, cynical monster, with absolutely no redeeming features. He did not manage to bring life to his character.
Landru, too monstrous a monster , even for Chabrol ?
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