7.6/10
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14 user 13 critic

Just Before Nightfall (1971)

Juste avant la nuit (original title)
Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games ... See full summary »

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
François Périer ...
...
Jeannot
Dominique Zardi ...
Prince
Henri Attal ...
Cavanna
Paul Temps ...
Bardin
Daniel Lecourtois ...
Dorfmann
Clelia Matania ...
Celia ...
Jacqueline
Pascal Gillot ...
Auguste Masson
Brigitte Périn ...
Joséphine Masson
Marcel Gassouk ...
Barman
Anna Douking ...
Roger Lumont ...
Commissaire Delfeil
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Storyline

Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games goes too far. Dazed, Charles walks out of the borrowed apartment in Paris and soon bumps into François in a nearby bistro. They drive back together to Versailles, where they have beautiful neighboring houses designed by François. The owner of the apartment had seen Laura and Charles together two months earlier, but she does not tell the police on the advice of François. Even though the police do not seem to have any clues to the crime, Charles has a difficult time coping with the situation, and trying to live a normal life with his two children and loving wife Hélène. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

31 March 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Just Before Nightfall  »

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)
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Did You Know?

Connections

Version of Onna no naka no futatsu no kao (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Silent Night
Original lyrics by Joseph Mohr and music by Franz Gruber, French lyrics by unknown lyricst
Played and sung in the Christmas morning scene
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User Reviews

 
A Study in Moral Complexity
13 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the most morally exquisite of Chabrol's many explorations of the human condition. Guilt, forgiveness, revenge coexist and mutually triumph. Many of us assume these three moral stances are mutually incompatible. Chabrol balances them against each other and then fuses them together. The actors reveal their inner dilemmas with gestures more than words. Deep intentions run across surface motives. And the final gesture of this compelling film casts all that went before into another, deeper level. Of course, no deed is as simple as it seems. But few appreciate as Chabrol does here that our all too common morally mixed motives can continue to coexist to the grave. No evil deed is ever straightforward, but neither are the best ones.

Had Chabrol filmed this in the style of Bergman, this film would be a Criterion Classic. But filmed as a thriller, it has sadly failed to gain the audience and admiration it so richly deserves. It is a philosophical triumph!


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