6 February 2009 | The_Void
Not vintage Chabrol, but still an interesting and well made thriller!
Claude Chabrol made some of the best thrillers of all time in the late sixties and early seventies, with such classics as La Rupture, This Man Must Die and Wedding in Blood under his belt. The Swindle is the most recent of all the Chabrol films that I've seen and while it has to be said that it doesn't capture the brilliant complexity of his earlier films; this is still an excellent exercise in suspense and trickery; well handled and bolstered by a very capable central cast. We focus on Elizabeth and Victor; a pair of scam artists. They pull off a successful scam and the female of the pair decides she needs some time on her own and they decide to meet up again after a ten day break. They meet up at a hotel during a dentist's convention; and Elizabeth has already found a mark named Maurice, who is transporting five million Swiss Francs on behalf of his company. The two make plans to steal the money under Maurice's nose...however, there may be more to the game than either of them realised.
This film has been described as 'lightweight Chabrol' and I'd agree with that as compared with his earlier films; there just isn't all that much to this one. However, there's still plenty about this film to enjoy. The main point of interest is the relationship between the two central characters. Chabrol never directly tells us exactly what this relationship is; her calling him 'papa' appearing to merely an affectionate term. The two central actresses are superb with the demure and attractive Isabelle Huppert acting well alongside the older Michel Serrault. The plot flows well and although it never really picks up; Chabrol keeps things going at a nice pace and always ensures that his audience wants to see what's coming next. The film is rather lightweight and enjoyable for the first hour or so and takes a darker turn towards the end; which does actually fit the film well despite the change in atmosphere. Overall, this is not vintage Chabrol by any means but it's a well made and entertaining thriller and I'm sure Chabrol fans will appreciate it.