Chabrol's third film, greeted at the time as a Hitchcock pastiche, now looks like pure Chabrol: his first demolition job on the bourgeois family as internal tensions - father (Dacqmine) is indulging a clandestine affair, mother (Robinson) worries what the neighbours will think, daughter (Valérie) struggles with her inhibitions, and son (Jocelyn) quietly strangles on his mother's apron-strings - finally succumb to spontaneous combustion. Belmondo is fun as the uncouth, outrageously déclassé interloper who serves as a catalyst, goading both father and daughter into an open acknowledgment of their sexual needs, but he seems to have come from another, more overt movie, at odds with the subtly detailed (and beautifully acted) portrait of social repressions and malaises. Seen in the light of Chabrol's later work, the film has gained considerably in stature. Best of several stunning scenes is the climactic murder of the mistress (Lualdi), a fragile china doll who comes gift-wrapped in a Japanese-style house. Glacial, almost serene in its inevitability, this chilling sequence reveals the first glimpses of the Fritz Lang influence later to flower in Chabrol's work.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Paul Gégauff, Claude Chabrol|