Roland Wolf wants to write a book about a TV game-show host, the hail-fellow-well-met Christian Legagneur, who invites Wolf to his country estate, promising several days of lengthy ... See full summary »
Roland Wolf wants to write a book about a TV game-show host, the hail-fellow-well-met Christian Legagneur, who invites Wolf to his country estate, promising several days of lengthy interviews. But Legagneur's laughter and easy intimacy are empty of content for a book, and he's constantly dashing off, promising Wolf more time later. Wolf seems to have his own mask: he's brought a gun with him, and he's curious about a woman who was a recent guest at the estate. There's also Legagneur's godchild, Catherine, recovering from mental illness, and hovered over by Legagneur and his secretary. As Wolf digs through desks, he discovers a murderous plot. Can he now outfox his host? Written by
This Claude Chabrol film is notable for being the occasion of the film debut of 21 year-old Anne Brochet. She does an absolutely brilliant job, but that was but a prelude to her magnificent performance in the later TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE (ALL THE MORNINGS OF THE WORLD, 1991), where she was unforgettable as the daughter of Saint-Colombe, the viola da gamba composer. The word brochet means 'pike' in English, so that if she were English or American, she would be Anne Pike. I cannot resist pointing out that my mother's best friend at school was named Annie Pike. A pike is a very large fresh-water fish, for those who are unacquainted with such matters. I wonder how Anne Brochet would get on with the British actress Rosamund Pike. They are opposite types, but equally inspired. It seems to me that in an ideal world, all pikes should swim together as friends, but then a pike can be a ferocious fish which not only eats up all the small fish, but will fight great battles against rival pikes. However, back to the film. This film features a powerful tour de force performance by Philippe Noiret, but I do feel that he went slightly over the top and that Chabrol might have held him back just a bit. Nevertheless, as an egotistical and exhibitionist television game show presenter on French television, the character was meant to be well over the top, so maybe it was OK to emote with such force. The film is about a writer (played excellently by Robin Renucci, who specialises in bemused and quizzical looks) who pretends to write a biography of Noiret, whereas he is really interested in investigating the disappearance of his sister Nathalie, as she had been living in Noiret's large house and then vanished suddenly. The story is very hackneyed in that something like it has been made into a film so many times, especially in Britain, and the basic tale goes back to the Victorian 'Uncle Silas'. Noiret is the guardian of pale, innocent and waiflike Brochet, her parents having died in a car crash when she was 5. (Noiret may even have caused that.) She is very rich, or was, before he systematically began stealing all her money. Soon she will 'come into her majority', i.e. be 21, so things are reaching a climax and he is feeding her poison slowly. She is thus the imprisoned victim who is being killed off by her ruthless guardian. Brochet had been close to Nathalie. Renucci and she become close, and Renucci discovers what the dastardly Noiret is really up to and the struggle is on to save Brochet from being murdered, and Renucci from being killed as well. Will evil win? Trust Claude Chabrol to know.
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