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As every year, chief inspector Paul Bellamy spends a few days with his wife Françoise in the family house in Nîmes. Jacques, Paul's stepbrother, turns up unawares, which is bad news since the fellow is an alcoholic good for nothing. Also annoying is this stranger at bay who asks Bellamy for protection. Farewell peaceful holiday! Written by
This is by far the worst Chabrol film I've watched; he is normally I director I admire but this film is dull, vapid, poorly edited and showcases all the worst stereotypes about French cinema. The characters are completely lacking in depth (and contrived oh-so-shocking revelations don't change this) and universally uninteresting; Depardieu in particular is very good at acting pedantic, but manages to convey precious little else. Actually, none of the characters are likable and most are unsympathetic without being interesting.
The central plot is about a crime that gets rapidly duller as the film progresses; from the start it's not particularly fascinating (because none of the characters involved is sympathetic or interesting in his own right, it fails to answer 'why should I care?'), but the central crime story becomes increasingly prosaic and occasionally ludicrous.
This film has far too many subplots, none of which are even remotely interesting and they drag on and on ('brevity is the soul of wit' applies here) and are only marginally relevant to the central plot. You keep hoping one of them develops into something interesting, but it never happens. It has the feel that Chabrol filmed lots of subplot footage in case it was useful and in the end just decided to shove it all into the final product.
Unless this film is somehow meant as a parody of the most pretentious French cinema or some other sort of in-joke, it is an astonishing failure by an otherwise very good director.
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