3 March 2008 | oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx
cold, pneumonic, black
I love a line in this movie from the executive Masson, he said he had his house designed by a modern architect to avoid the sclerosis of becoming bourgeois. Thats exactly what I think when I see modernist furniture and architecture. It's made for future people, dysfunction-free, productive, and clairvoyant. Only that's not quite how it works out. Here we have post-bourgeois people, who find themselves, like all the best swimmers, more likely to drown. They try to reinvent morality and instead trespass into treacherous areas which the ignorant forbid themselves through superstition, in the process jettisoning the wisdom of ages.
Yes this is a Chabrol film but don't believe it's a thriller, what we have here is more along the lines of Bergman. The police in this film are portrayed as merely being obnoxious, a nuisance to everyone involved in the murder. We are constantly waiting for the detective Cavanna to disappear from the screen.
We have a view here of people whom I'm sure Matthew Barney would call almost crystalline, devoid of potentiality. The film is so awful in this respect that it almost made me glad that we only tend to live eighty years. The tired-eyed men in this movie are weighed down with disillusion and regret, waiting for the end, their successes mere dust. Just before the night, indeed. Gone are their protean days, gone are the Alpheuses of youth. It's not so much a murder thriller as an essay into death. Masson, Tellier et al would welcome the cool breeze whispering through the cypresses on the island of the dead. One startling shot from a train shows Paris in twilight, looking grubby and ready for death itself.
I think more than anything this film is about mortality. Nowhere do we see hot blood in this film, only palsy and the damp skin of the pneumonic, the husband of the mudered woman even comforts the murderer. One part of the movie that I find astonishing is when Masson sees his employee of many many years, who has just been caught embezzling by the police and is now in custody. Masson looks at him with compassion, but the old man, who is now in a sense freer than he ever has been, looks him straight in the eye and tells him to screw himself. Masks off and a bonfire of the vanities.
This film is concentrated sulphuric acid, for more of the same see Les Bonnes Femmes and Les Cousins.