7.6/10
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Le Boucher (1970)

Le boucher (original title)
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An unlikely friendship between a dour, working class butcher and a repressed schoolteacher coincides with a grisly series of Ripper-type murders in a provincial French town.

Director:

Claude Chabrol

Writer:

Claude Chabrol
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stéphane Audran ... Hélène
Jean Yanne ... Popaul / Paul Thomas
Antonio Passalia Antonio Passalia ... Angelo
Pascal Ferone Pascal Ferone ... Père Cahrpy / Uncle Cahrpy
Mario Beccara Mario Beccara ... Léon Hamel
William Guérault William Guérault ... Charles
Roger Rudel Roger Rudel ... Commissaire Grumbach / Inspector Grumbach
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Storyline

Butcher Popaul meets schoolteacher Helene at a wedding in a small rural French village. They become friends. But girls are murdered in the area and Helene finds at the scene the lighter she gave Popaul... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

19 December 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Boucher See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When the blood from a murder victim drips down onto a girl from a cliff above, the hand shown dripping the blood looks fake. See more »

Quotes

Hélène: [Walking through a cavern] You must understand that the instincts, the feelings, and even the intelligence of Cro-Magnon man was definitely human. The only differences to the problem were his needs to survive.
Student: What does "survive" mean?
Hélène: It means to stay alive. He began to draw. Do you know what we call desires when they lose their savage quality? Aspirations. If Cro-Magnon had not survived, the world in which we live wouldn't exist.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Le boucher: intervista a Claude Chabrol (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Capri Petite Île
by Dominique Zardi
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A subtle mystery.
3 April 2006 | by PizzicatoFishCrouchSee all my reviews

Amongst the guests at a wedding are a Helene, a lonely teacher, played by Stephane Audran, and an ex-army butcher (Jean Yanne). Against their differences, the two develop a friendship. However, in the town there lurks a serial killer, and that killer may or may not be the butcher himself. Plagued with feelings of doubt and fear, Helene finds herself constantly at tenterhooks regarding her new friend (of sorts), and surprises and shocks are placed intricately until the very last frames.

At 90 minutes, this mystery feels longer than it is, and that may be due to some of the stylistic techniques adapted by director Chabrol, such as the languid and very sparse use of camera movement, and shots of the bells to contribute to a sense of time. Content-wise, he borrows from Hitchcock, using themes of shared secrets, obsession and moral ambiguity. These themes are used well, creating appropriate amounts of suspense and anticipation in the viewer, and Chabrol plays with his audience deftly, placing surprises and non-surprises in sequence so that we are every bit as nervy as Audran. He is less concerned with explaining the motives for the killings than just presenting them, and for that, and chilling atmosphere of indifference is created throughout the film.

The two leads are strong in their performances, and the slow, fragile romance between them is as credible as it is integral to the plot. In particular, Stephane Audran shines, as a woman who begins, poised, content and assured, only to finish ruffled and perhaps, as the ending shot shows, a little ruined by the events that she has witnessed. The film is carried along by an eerie, quasi-apocalyptic score by Pierre Janse and Domonique Zardi, which haunts long after the film has ended.

If the ending does feel like somewhat of a copout, that may because we as the audience have viewed one plot twist too many, and the frequency and slightness at which each twist is revealed diminishes its impact somewhat. But for the most part, this is good film-making; quite unpretentious, coolly aloof, and the subtle delivery only works to its advantage.

B+


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