I love Claude Chabrol. I don’t pretend to know his films all that well but am always pleasantly surprised by his work. He has earned his title as the French Hitchcock, with films about icy women and murder. He doesn’t care so much about the details, instead what he strives for, as did Hitchcock, is effect. Begin with a great premise, build tension, and then come up with a striking ending. The whole films feels like a fun winking to the audience in this one. There is quite a bit to take in but is it worth watching?
First a synopsis.
In Lausanne, the aspirant pianist Jeanne Pollet has lunch with her mother Louise Pollet, her boyfriend Axel and his mother. Lenna leans that when she was born, a nurse had mistakenly told to the prominent pianist André Polonski that she would be his daughter. André has just remarried his first wife, the heiress of a Swiss chocolate factory Marie-Claire “Mika” Muller and they live in Lausanne with André’s son Guillaume Polonski. Out of the blue, Jeanne visits André and he offers to give piano classes to help her in her examination. Jeanne becomes closer to André and sooner she discovers that Mika might be drugging her stepson with Rohypnol. Further, she might have killed his second wife Lisbeth.
This movie works because of the Director Chabrol and Isabelle Huppert. In a way, it’s a (light) psychological murder drama, and we kinda know the seed of evil is with Huppert’s character. Huppert exercises her art of subtle acting – that nonchalant facial expression that hardly flinches or betrays her suppressed inner conflicting feelings behind the mask of well-groomed outfits and demeanor. She owns every second of this film and makes every second she is on screen worth watching. Chabrol’s writing and directing style never thrusts obvious murderous threads in front of us. There are no actual blood or acts of violence that we see. Everything seems so civil. Clues are suggestive through conversational exchange between the characters and outside of the frames. That’s the masterful beauty of a Claude Chabrol piece – exquisitely presented and delightful to enjoy at ease.
The video and audio quality of this blu-ray are absolutely amazing however there is plenty to be desired with the blu-ray’s special features. We get a trailer for the re-release of the film. We are also treated to a commentary from two film critics that is kind of dry.
Overall, this film is a great darkly humorous take on Hitchcocks formula.
There is a lot going on here so please always give it time and a serious eye because it deserves your attention. Yes the acting here is great but the film is also saying so much about the middle and upper class of people and it goes down as sweet as chocolate.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 4 out of 5 pieces of chocolate.
Review by Bro “B” – Ben
We received a copy of this blu-ray for our review. All opinions are our own
Nightcap (Merci Pour le Chocolat) [Blu-ray] is available on Amazon.com and other DVD retailers.