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'I'd kill my sister for a good pun,' says the hero of Chabrol's murder mystery; but it looks as if smarmy TV show host Christian Legagneur (Noiret) may already have knocked his chances, and his sister, on the head. Dressed in the sheep's clothing of biographer Roland Wolf, the hero insinuates himself into Legagneur's country house, where the latter's goddaughter (Brochet) languishes in a state of narcolepsy. Everyone in the house has a double identity, from the allegedly mute chauffeur/chef to the amorous masseuse/fortune-teller (Lafont). But it is what lies behind his host's polite mask that interests the snooping Roland. Noiret's slobbish screen persona is ill-suited to his role as a bourgeois manipulator with a gift for cerebral word games, and it is only when the facade cracks at the end that his more corporeal style of nastiness seems appropriate. Chabrol frames the verbal sparring with characteristic precision, but the subtle plot suffers from a surfeit of politesse and a dearth of red-blooded passion.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Claude Chabrol
Screenwriter: Odile Barski, Claude Chabrol
Cast: Philippe Noiret
Robin Renucci
Bernadette Lafont
Monique Chaumette
Anne Brochet
Roger Dumas
Pierre-François Duméniaud
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