Le Boucher (1971)
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a beautiful quiet thriller, simply amazing. every bit as good as hitchcock; very nearly perfect! most romantic serial killer film i've seen lol
"Le Boucher" is more of a study in passive complicity or associative guilt than a murder-mystery, but it's still a difficult movie to write about without spoiling the plot for newcomers, so I'm going to sidestep the problem. It reminds me of a tragic variation on "La Belle et la Bête", in which Belle is too romantically jaded and too much the mistress of her own desires - i.e. she is not innocent enough - to save the helpless Beast from his uncontrollable lust for blood. In the most telling scene of all, schoolmistress Mademoiselle Hélène (Stéphane Audran) and her pupils visit some cave paintings by Cro-Magnon man. The teacher asks, "Do you know what desires are called when they rise above the savage state? Aspirations." The irony is that Belle condemns the Beast to his savage limbo by being completely unresponsive to his tender advances, his aspirations. While the film undoubtedly owes a debt to Hitchcock, Chabrol's beautifully observed provincial French setting completely surpasses the other's invariably artificial backdrops. Pierre Jansen's score is wonderfully creepy and Stéphane Audran and Jean Yanne are magnificent. A quietly perfect little masterpiece. "Mademoiselle Hélène! Mademoiselle Hélène!"
Probably Claude Chabrol's most acclaimed film, "Le Boucher" is a solid tale about a small-town schoolteacher (Stephane Audran) who enters a tentative courtship with the local butcher (Jean Yanne), only to develop suspicions that he's the serial killer whom the police are tracking. The story takes awhile to heat up and Audran (Chabrol's then-wife) is far too model-beautiful for the role, but the second half builds some compelling, Alfred Hitchcock-like tension. And don't overlook Pierre Jansen's intriguing, avant-garde score -- definitely an unexpected treat. It's just too bad the film is visually drab, beyond a bit of exotic cave footage.
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