Although I found Claude Chabrol’s famous film Le Boucher interesting, having just seen his 1969 movie La Femme Infidele, I certainly found it more absorbing, and even, dare I say it, more substantial. Again, it stars Chabrol’s then wife, Stephane Audran. This time she is married to a wealthy older man, played by Michel Bousquet. They live in the countryside, in an idyllic house with lovely grounds, along with their ten year old son, to whom they are both devoted.
However, all is not well with the marriage. The spark seems to have gone. The wife , Helene, is becoming bored, and there is a lack of mutual understanding and empathy. The husband, Charles, begins to suspect that Helene is having an affair, and a private detective confirms his worst fears. Charles does not confront his wife. Rather, he pays a visit to her lover, and a calamitous series of events ensues.
This is a film roughly in the Hitchcock tradition, and the attempts to cover up a murder are portrayed vividly. But it is the relationship between Charles and Helene that is the key to the film, and it is conveyed rather subtly, and with a depth that Hitchcock might not have attempted. The final scenes reveal more about the true nature of the relationship than the police work which (by a route which isn’t explained) leads to the identification of the culprit.
The performances of the two lead characters are excellent, yet cleverly under-stated, in keeping with the low-key mood of the film. I enjoyed this one, and – as long as you are not looking for a conventional murder mystery – I think you will too.