Merci pour le chocolat (18)
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Time Out saysA dark, velvety film which masks the rough with the smooth and coats a bitter pill in a veneer of decadent French polish. This has been Chabrol's way as often as not over the course of more than 50 films, and he's long since got it down to a fine art. Too fine, one suspects, for an audience accustomed to Hollywood overkill. Dutronc stars as the famous pianist André Polonski. Recently remarried to his first wife, Mika (Huppert), Polonski lives in Lausanne, along with Guillaume, a son by his second wife. Enter Jeanne Pollet (Mouglalis), born on the very same day and in the very same hospital as Guillaume, and a prodigy on the piano. Could it be there was some terrible mix-up 18 years ago? Plenty of material there, you'd have thought, for crazy farce or anguished melodrama. But Chabrol prefers a drily understated comedy of manners. These members of the haute bourgeoisie remain serenely implacable - intent on maintaining their own charades even as their dearest relationships unravel. You could call them sophisticated, or emotionally comatose. Either way, it takes a more macabre twist to shock them to their senses. Visually restrained and aurally elaborate, it's an old-fashioned, subtly deceptive film, the sort of thing Chabrol can turn out in his sleep. (From the novel The Chocolate Cobweb by Charlotte Armstrong.) TCh.