This is minor Renoir, 'Jekyll and Hyde' transposed to contemporary Paris. An early example of the TV/cinema hybrid, it was sufficiently a curiosity at the time to justify an irrelevant opening about Renoir arriving at the RTF studios to record a prologue. Shot fast using TV techniques (lots of cameras and mikes covering a single long take), it consequently looks flat and unatmospheric, while some of the performances are mysterious (Why is Vitold so manic? Is Bilis meant to be such a prig?). But the redeeming asset, indeed the film's entire justification, is Barrault in his Opale (i.e. Hyde) manifestation. Shambling, twitching, cocky and looking for trouble, turning ferociously on anyone weak who crosses his path, he is the epitome of aggression and the absence of pity. Forget March and Malkovich, Barrymore and Beswick: none comes within a mile of this chilling creation.
Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier
Cast and crew