Nightcap
Switched at birth? Guillaume and Jeanne (Mouglalis and Pauly) wonder...
Merci pour le Chocolat

dir Claude Chabrol
scr Caroline Eliacheff, Claude Chabrol
with Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis, Rodolphe Pauly, Brigitte Catillon, Mathieu Simonet, Michel Robin
release UK 8.Jun.01
00/France-Switzerland 1h41

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

Based on Charlotte Armstrong's novel The Chocolate Cobweb, Chabrol's latest thriller is a low-key affair with lots of Hitchcockian flourishes. It's an entertaining, involving film, but never really gets to the bottom of its themes and ideas. We begin with the re-marriage of Mika and Andre (Huppert and Dutronc), who were married years before but took a long break from each other, during which time Andre, a famous pianist, married the love of his life and had a son, Guillaume (Pauly), now 18. Then his wife died in a mysterious car crash, and he came back to Mika, a chocolate heiress, for comfort. Into their life comes the young Jeanne (Mouglalis), born on the same day and in the same clinic as Guillaume and an aspiring pianist herself. No one believes they were switched at birth, but it's just enough to raise suspicion all around. And then things start to get really creepy.

If anything, the film is just a bit too full of clever directoral touches for its own good. Mika is such a controlling, manipulative presence that nothing she does is subtle--Chabrol could have used a slightly lighter touch to slowly add to our misgivings about her. But where he lays it on a bit thickly, Huppert continually surprises with an astonishingly nuanced performance full of intrigue and dry wit. The other actors underplay their roles, leaving Huppert as the film's magnetic centre. And Chabrol continually adds to the tension with droll shots and compositions that build the tension enjoyably to the rather off-beat ending. An unusual, uneven, captivating little thriller.
themes, language cert PG 4.Jun.01

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