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The Breach (1970)

La rupture (original title)
Helene Regnier's husband Charles, who is mentally ill, injures their son Michel in a rage. Charles moves back in with his wealthy and manipulative parents, who blame Helene for their son's ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ludovic Régnier
Mme Pinelli
Charles Régnier
Mario Beccara
Serge Bento
Henri Pinelli
Marguerite Cassan ...
Louise Chevalier ...
La deuxième parque
Suzy Falk
Pierre Gualdi
Harry Kümel
Pierre Le Rumeur ...
(as Pierre Lerumeur)


Helene Regnier's husband Charles, who is mentally ill, injures their son Michel in a rage. Charles moves back in with his wealthy and manipulative parents, who blame Helene for their son's condition and vow to win custody of Michel. While the boy is in hospital, Helene rents a room in a boarding house nearby. The Regniers hire Paul Thomas, a family acquaintance who needs money, to find dirt on Helene before the court hearing on custody. Paul moves into the boarding house and, with the help of his girlfriend Sonia, who rarely wears clothes, plots to ruin Helene's reputation and then her very life. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

26 August 1970 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Breach  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Claude Chabrol once stated that the bus scene where Hélène (his wife Stéphane Audran) tells her family's story to the lawyer (Michel Duchaussoy) was the occasion when he finally thought that Stéphane had become an actress. See more »


Paul Thomas: Let me do something for you. Let me take you to the airport, then I'll know you've forgiven me. Please!
Hélène Régnier: No, I won't.
Paul Thomas: Don't be spiteful. Understand me, I know you're not mean.
Hélène Régnier: No, I can't afford the luxury.
[is about to leave]
Paul Thomas: [grabbing Hélène] What do you mean? Come, tell me or I'll never forgive myself!
Hélène Régnier: [trying to free herself and leave] Don't be stupid! It won't be a disaster if I go alone!
Paul Thomas: Hélène, don't go, it's impossible!
[eventually lets her go]
Hélène Régnier: [whiny] Oooohhh...
See more »

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User Reviews

THE BREACH (Claude Chabrol, 1970) ***1/2
20 June 2010 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

The alternative English-language title of this one, THE BREAK UP, always seemed to me to imply that Chabrol had made a typically classy treatment of the theme of a family going through divorce proceedings a full decade before that Oscar-laden triumph KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979). However, the film's very opening sequence obliterates that misconception immediately and completely: the quiet breakfast being enjoyed by a mother (the ubiquitous Stephane Audran playing, as usual, a character named Helene) and her little son is suddenly shattered by the unkempt and sinister appearance of the father (Jean-Claude Drouot – perhaps best-known for playing Yul Brynner's long-haired right-hand man in THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD the following year) who is clearly in some kind of daze brought on by the use of illegal substances.

The couple start arguing and, just as the man seems about to slap the woman, he grabs the kid and literally throws him clear across the room; the latter hits his head violently against the edge of a kitchen cupboard and lands in a bloody puddle on the floor! It is a thoroughly shocking sequence – not just because it is totally unexpected and comes so early in the film but also since this utterly vile act is committed by a father upon his own son! Previously, I had equally gasped at a similar deed featuring in Ingmar Bergman's influential period piece THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960) but, again, the blood link between abuser and abused here makes the action all the more reprehensible.

Actually, the film's original French title, LA RUPTURE, should from the outset have been more suggestive to what was in store for the perceptive viewer and, indeed, can be interpreted to allude to various characters and events: the dissolution of the couple's socially incompatible marriage; the gash in the kid's head (he is confined to a hospital bed for the duration of the film and is never again seen in a conscious state); the wrecking of the illusory brashness with which down-on-his-luck mole (Jean-Pierre Cassel, effectively cast against type) callously spins a web of deceit around Audran in a frame-up engineered by her all-powerful father-in-law (Michel Bouquet, also uncharacteristically portraying a villain) to ensure the custody of his grandson; and, at the film's conclusion, the cracking of Audran's very sanity – not only through the incredible events happening around her, but also because of her unwittingly imbibing a drug-spiked orange juice drink concocted by Cassel!!

And what about the breach in Chabrol's own stylistic approach to such archetypal material, taking in as it does a healthy dose of black comedy (the eccentric inhabitants at the foreclosing boarding house where Audran and Cassel install themselves – including three elderly tarot-playing snoops, delusional thespian Mario David, boozing landlord Jean Carmet and his bespectacled, "backward" daughter Katia Romanoff), sleazy bedroom antics (courtesy of Cassel's perennially nude and horny girl played by the delectable Catherine Rouvel) and even outright psychedelia (Audran's kaleidoscopic vision of friendly balloon vendor Dominique Zardi)! Evidently, Chabrol wears his well-documented Fritz Lang influence on his sleeve even in this case! For the record, the film under review is based on a novel by Charlotte Armstrong, of whose works Chabrol would later also adapt MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT (2000).

The first-rate ensemble cast also boasts a handful of other notable names: Michel Duchassoy (star of that which is arguably Chabrol's finest achievement, 1969's THIS MAN MUST DIE – appearing here as Audran's sympathetic lawyer), Angelo Infanti (as the doctor treating Audran's son and a lodger in her peculiar dwelling) and even Belgian director extraordinaire Harry Kumel (who, I am ashamed to say, I did not recognize…even though I know how he looks today from recent photographs and past DVD supplements!). As always with Chabrol during this major phase in his career, the impeccable accomplishments of cinematographer Jean Rabier and composer Pierre Jansen (who contributes a strikingly unsettling score) can never be underestimated.

Incidentally, Audran and Cassel would later appear as an oversexed married couple in Luis Bunuel's THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972) and, again, in Chabrol's star-studded THE TWIST (1976) which, ironically, is reputed to be his nadir(!) – and, of course, Audran and Bouquet also played husband and wife in Chabrol's THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE (1969; which, like THE BREACH itself, can be counted among Chabrol's Top 5 movies) and JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL (1971); besides, probably as a result of this same Franco-Italo-Belgian co-production, Bouquet and Cassel would themselves be subsequently engaged to participate in Harry Kumel's own exhilarating magnum opus, MALPERTUIS (1971).

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