Few things are more depressing than watching a master desperately trying to harvest something from fallow ground, and Claude Chabrol’s 2004 thriller-by-numbers feels like a fading echo of better days. A former film critic and French New Waver with a history of Hitchcockiness, Chabrol’s best family melodramas and postnoir potboilers have doubled as commentaries on middle-class pretensions; at worst, they’ve seemed like pale fires designed to pay homage to his cinematic heroes. The Bridesmaid, however, is just brio for brio’s sake. The veteran can still move a camera better than a dozen young Hollywood turks, yet narratively, this genre exercise is frustratingly anecdotal.
You know the attraction between the unbearably handsome Philippe (Magimel) and the unhinged Senta (Smet) is a fatal one from the first glance, an uncomfortably frank stare that the latter fixes on the former at his sister’s wedding. After Senta later shows up at Philippe’s house, disrobing and declaring her passion in nanoseconds, the carnal lust quickly gives way to a pathological possessiveness. Bring on the creepy declarations and corpses! Chabrol’s revelation of a gruesome past deed is done with sly casualness, but when your cat-and-mouse games favor flourishes over actual suspense, maybe you’d better rethink the rhythm of your danse macabre.(Opens Fri; Angelika). — David Fear