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

 -  Crime | Drama  -  31 March 1971 (France)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 849 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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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

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Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

31 March 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Just Before Nightfall  »

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User Reviews

 
One of Chabrol's very best
3 December 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Juste Avant La Nuit/Just Before Nightfall is one of Claude Chabrol's very best despite a few uncertain moments in the opening scenes (Michel Bouquet and sunglasses just don't go together). Rather than the crime itself (which happens offscreen during the titles), the film is concerned with the effects on the (possibly) accidental murderer as his constantly frustrated need to unburden himself punishes him far more than the law ever could. If it's a little hard to believe the distant and somewhat constipated Bouquet is so universally admired and loved by his wife and best friend that they not only forgive but urge him not to confess to the murder he gradually drip feeds them details about, he's completely convincing as a man who wants to be punished and judged but can't even convince the spouse of his victim to do so.

The film has been beautifully thought through, and throughout Chabrol renders his struggle to confess in intriguing cinematic terms – at one point we hear him confess in voice over only for no sounds to emerge from his lips when they finally do move. He makes great use of the unique architecture of Bouquet's modernist house (which gets a well-deserved screen credit of its own), with its bedroom a virtual stage with its own curtains dividing it from the rest of the house, benefiting from some amazingly good camera-work boasting some incredibly well timed shots that reveal and reflect state of mind as well as action. Stephane Audran is exceptionally good as his wife, while Francois Perier (best remembered as the fatalistic cop in Le Samourai) offers warmly convincing support in what should be an increasingly impossible part. Very highly recommended.


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