The upper-class owner of a gallery, Catherine Lelievre, hires the efficient and quiet maid Sophie to work in the family manor in the French countryside. Her husband Georges Lelievre, who is... See full summary »
In nineteenth-century France, the romantic daughter of a country squire (Emma Rouault) marries a dull country doctor (Charles Bovary). To escape boredom, she throws herself into love ... See full summary »
Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul's flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with ... See full summary »
Charles Desvallées has good reasons to believe that his wife is cheating on him and hires a P.D. in order to prove himself right. Once he knows the lover is writer Victor Pégala, he drives ... See full summary »
In Lausanne, the aspirant pianist Jeanne Pollet has lunch with her mother Louise Pollet, her boyfriend Axel and his mother. Lenna leans that when she was born, a nurse had mistakenly told ... See full summary »
Beauvoir, lonely, aging private detective, is put on the bloody track of beautiful Catherine Leiris who kills and robs her rich husband(s) on their wedding night. Although he never ... See full summary »
Lucienne Delamare and Pierre Maury are having an affair. Lucienne's husband Paul is the mayor, and a French deputy. Pierre's wife Clotilde has been weak and sickly for years. Lucienne's ... See full summary »
Like Vanya, in Malle's last film, Milou never left the family estate. His mother dies during the May 1968 student uprising in Paris. The brother who is the London correspondent for Le Monde... See full summary »
"Les fantômes du chapelier" ,very well received at the time of release,still stands as Chabrol's best movie in the eighties,though certain aspects of its premise have undergone some reassessment.
Seen today,the movie displays flaws that were hardly noticeable 20 years ago.First of all,Michel Serrault overplays:his over-the -top performance ,once lauded ,seems now exasperating and throws the movie off balance.(I wonder what Chabrol's other favorite,Michel Bouquet, would have done in this part).This imbalance is increased by the fact that Charles Aznavour's character is not present enough on the screen.Aznavour gives a wonderful portrayal of an Armenian émigré,whom bourgeois Serrault enjoys humiliating and demeaning.With hindsight Aznavour beats Serrault hands down.
The problem with "les fantômes du chapelier" is that it recalls other superior movies:bourgeois impunity had always been treated by Chabrol himself during his 1967-1973 heyday (notably:"la femme infidèle","la rupture" "juste avant la nuit""docteur Popaul"),but also long before him:Henri Decoin's "non coupable" (1946) and "la verite sur Bebe Donge" (1952): in the 1946 film,the intention is much clearier and scarier than in Chabrol's 1982 effort,and ,anyway,Serrault is no match for Michel Simon.We can also mention George Lautner's "le septième juré". "Les fantômes du chapelier" has an eerie side,verging on fantastic ,but ,again,there's the rub:let's face it,it looks like some kind of "psycho" of which the secret would have been be revealed sooner.
Something intriguing:the camera often shows a "Ben Hur" poster in the neighborhood .A tribute to William Wyler is dubious from a "nouvelle vague " family director,but who knows?
See it anyways.Its several incredible moments will make it worth your while.For Charles Aznavour and for Chabrol's always absorbing depiction of a small town.
11 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?