Respectable Bernard Blier kills but the town prefers not to believe his confession
"Le septieme jure" is an excellent film noir, one worth seeking out (zone 2 DVD), and Bernard Blier shows here what an excellent actor he was. Watch his face, his eyes, his body language to see.
From the opening frames of a misty lake, followed by Blier walking, hands in his pockets, which is body language for hiding something, his face in the left foreground with brilliant sunlight coming through the trees on the right, we are in the presence of a carefully done picture. What we see on the screen has been carefully composed. The story has a sharp focus and logical continuity. Characters are realistically drawn.
Blier commits an unplanned murder of a young woman at the start of the movie. There is a low shot of Blier that is tremendous, various emotions traversing his face, and then comes the alternation of emotions in his demeanor as he kisses the unwilling woman and then tries to stop her from screaming.
The rest of the movie, with a helping of his interior monologues, shows the after effects on him, on her falsely accused boy friend, on Blier's wife, and on the town's leaders and people.
The story goes in unexpected directions. Blier is a highly intelligent pharmacist in a suffocating marriage. When he was 25 and engaged to his present wife, he had an adventure with another woman, Nadia, but he became scared and ran from it, toward respectability. The film explores in depth the heavy hold that such outward respectability has on the people of the town and what they will sacrifice of other values in order to maintain it. How will such people handle a murder in their midst, when the victim is a free and easy young woman who enjoys her men? Blier has a conscience and feels remorse.
At the trial, he is the seventh juror. The consequences are fascinating.
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