True crime: Marie-Louise Giraud, here renamed Latour (Huppert), was guillotined in Paris in 1943 for carrying out abortions. Perhaps fearing that his characters might emerge as facile symbols (of oppressed womanhood, defeated France) Chabrol plays it very cool indeed. The background of the Occupation is only lightly touched on, feminist themes remain merely implicit, and the director amuses himself with ghoulish intimations of the catastrophe to come: the decapitation of a goose, the ambition of Marie's son to become an executioner. The body of the film is an engrossing account of Marie's almost inadvertent assumption of the role of neighbourhood abortionist, her amused involvement with the demi-monde (Trintignant as a no-nonsense hooker) and her husband's slow burning resentment of the situation. Chabrol dedicates the film to his actors - with reason, since they serve him so well.