29 May 2011 | melvelvit-1
Housebound Agatha Christie-style mystery
What struck me most about Julien Duvivier's MARIE-OCTOBRE, an Agatha Christie-style mystery about a former resistance leader (Danielle Darrieux) who gathers her old cohorts together to flush out the Judas who betrayed them, was how the plot was set in motion. Fifteen years after the war, Marie runs a fashion house and a German buyer, a former Wehrmacht officer, recognized her and let it slip in casual conversation that one of her own had turned them in back in the day -only he couldn't remember their name. Former enemies striking up an acquaintance many years later and reminiscing about the war "like old friends" doubtless happened to many a Yank and British vet on Continental vacations back in the '50s and '60s but in this instance that betrayal caused the death of Marie's lover. She never married, never forgot, and her insistence on a day of reckoning stood in stark contrast to the near-indifference most of the others exhibited (there was one suspect who kept sneaking away from the investigation to watch wrestling on TV). They all had gotten on with their lives and preferred to let the past stay buried, even a priest.
It's a good idea with an obvious flaw, unfortunately -the entire film takes place in a drawing room and is all talk, talk, talk. MARIE-OCTOBRE positively cries out for flashbacks and if it had only "opened up", it could have been impressive, indeed, and would most likely be much better known today. Still, the movie's got a great "name" cast and the tale itself is quite involving. Recommended.