4 July 2014 | Coventry
There ain't no party like a French hunting party!
"La Traque" is an undeservedly obscure French drama/thriller that is incredibly tense, intelligent, compelling and unpredictable. The title, plot synopsis and awesome movie poster make you assume that this is another variant on the "The Most Dangerous Game" in combination with "Straw Dogs" or "Deliverance", but the film is much more than that. It's a dreary Sunday and a bunch of macho males gather in the countryside for an afternoon of wild boar hunting. The group of acquaintances (I really wouldn't refer to them as close friends) exists of prominent aristocrats, like a land owner and an aspiring senator, as well as middle class guys, like a pair of car mechanic brothers and a former military man. During the hunt, the Danville brothers encounter Helen Wells, a beautiful English tourist searching for a country cottage to rent during the holidays. They viciously rape the defenseless poor girl, but she manages to wound Paul Danville and flee into the forest. Although none of the other hunting party members is responsible for what happened, they all have their own dark secrets and absolutely want to avoid getting linked to a scandal. Therefore, rather than helping Helen, they decide to collectively track her down and silence her. The acts and decisions taken by the lead characters may seem illogical and revolting, but they're actually very realistic and plausible. In fact, "La Traque" is much more of a social character study instead of a rancid backwoods thriller. Real human beings are much more cowardly and self-protective than the heroes depicted in movies, as illustrated in the unforgettably bleak finale. The atmosphere of the film is thoroughly grim and depressing, with fantastic exterior locations and powerful camera-work. The all-star cast is sublime, with particularly Mimsy Farmer, Michael Longsdale and Jean-Pierre Marielle giving away solid performances. I'm not too familiar with the repertoire of director Serge Leroy, but solely based on his surefooted direction here, I already added two of his other potentially great sounding films on my must-see list.