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Just Before Nightfall (1971)
"Juste avant la nuit" (original title)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  31 March 1971 (France)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 808 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 11 critic

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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Title: Just Before Nightfall (1971)

Just Before Nightfall (1971) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »


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


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

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Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

31 March 1971 (France)  »

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Just Before Nightfall  »

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A meditation on guilt
4 February 2011 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

A man murders his best friend's wife. Guilt leads him to confess to the crime to both his friend and his wife. They in turn forgive him his act of homicide, betrayal and infidelity. This unconditional forgiveness and lack of reproach drives him to despair.

Despite the early scenes suggesting that this could be a thriller, as is the way with Claude Chabrol's other films, the narrative of Juste Avant la Nuit goes off in an entirely different direction. It uses it's opening crime not as a springboard to a suspenseful story but as a way of examining the human condition. The murder almost becomes irrelevant as we progress through the film and witness the central character become more and more depressed as a result of the love and understanding he is shown by the people who should ordinarily hate him for the ultimate betrayal he has shown them. Like other Chabrol films, this one depicts a melancholic and tragic villain. The audience are asked again to empathize with the criminal and try to understand his angst. It's morally complex and doesn't give out any answers at all. If you're looking for a traditional crime thriller this is not it. How much you enjoy this depends on how interesting you find it's central questions. I'm on the fence.

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