Having located the man who his wife is having an affair with through a private investigator, a well-to-do Frenchmen pays the man an amicable visit in this slow burn thriller from Claude Chabrol. While the film ends on a strong note with a nicely ambiguous final shot, an emphasis on 'slow' really is required as the entire first half-hour moves sluggishly along until the point when husband and lover finally meet. The precious few minutes that the pair share together are unquestionably the strongest in the film with lots of tension and uncertainty in the air as the husband wins the lover's confidence by pretending that he has an open marriage. This intensity peaks as he listens to the lover talk about how gentle and loving his wife is, enlightening him to a side of his wife that he clearly has not seen for a while. The immediate aftermath of their meeting together is pretty riveting too, but following that the film again loses tension and slows down in its final third, never again achieving the excellence of the husband-lover meeting scene. The film almost feels a bit long in a way, but then on the same account, not quite enough time is dedicated to fleshing out whether love, lust or otherwise existed between the two adulterers. Michel Bouquet's towering lead performance goes a long way to keep the film afloat though. Same goes for Chabrol's fluid camera movements, Pierre Jansen's atmospheric score and the rather novel premise of husband and lover meeting on amicable terms. It is such a great idea that is no surprise to learn that the film has been remade no less than three times to date.
- Apr 18, 2016
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