This parody of the detective-story genre merrily detours into spoofing French foibles as well, making it more of an exercise in verbal gymnastics than a narrative with a mission. Esther is ...
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This parody of the detective-story genre merrily detours into spoofing French foibles as well, making it more of an exercise in verbal gymnastics than a narrative with a mission. Esther is a veterinarian who is certain that her sister has been murdered by her brother-in-law. She convinces two members of the Academie Francaise, the prestigious institution that protects the virginity of the French language, to investigate. Both men are enamored of the woman and are quite willing to enter into competition for her favors. As might be expected from academicians of any ilk, they are inept at digging into a murder mystery and bumble their way through one incident after another. Corpses continue to pile up (not in front of the camera, however) while the two men are sidetracked by their interest in language. Given their positions, they do not want that murdered either. Written by
"Mon beau-frère a tué ma soeur" is a blend of two classic french genres - the 'policier' and of course the comedy. The film is also a good example of the many movies from France featuring a young female protagonist and a vastly older male protagonist - see also Binoche/Piccoli in "Mauvais Sang", Marceau/Depardieu in "Police" and Béart/Piccoli in "La Belle Noiseuse". Here we have a duo of elderly gentlemen in the Serrault/Piccoli double act. As the bumbling professors Octave Clapoteau and Etienne Sembadel they are madcap and not a little inept. Enter Juliette Binoche as Esther Bouloire a Veterinarian who is on the edge of sanity or so it seems. The two men are entranced by this beautiful creature and during an intimate dinner where they serve her oysters (what else?) she tells them her deepest secret. Her brother-in-law has killed her sister. Considering Esther is a patient at the local Psyche clinic they dont take her very seriously, but in order to spend time with her and hopefully woo the winsome vet the two agree to investigate the mystery. However the mobbed up Bouloire family are more than a match for the professors.
Rouffio's comedy is a strange film, where the over the top performances of all involved are more entertaining than the film itself. A particularly humourous scene has Binoche operating on a very vocal elephant. This was Binoche's second major role after Téchiné's haunting 'Rendez-Vous'. Her performance lacks the skill and confidence associated with her best roles, yet she is positively radiant in an unconventional role. Veteran actors Serrault and Piccoli excell in fairly two-dimensional parts, while Jean Carmet and Milva add class to the film in fairly limited roles.
"Mon beau-frère a tué ma soeur" is not the best work of anyone involved, not least Jacques Rouffio. It is however good fun and bizarre enough to hold your attention throughout. The final scenes involving the Pope in Rome are worth waiting for!
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