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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Merci Pour Le Chocolat (aka Nightcap) (2000)

A young girl (Anna Mouglalis) insinuates herself into the family of a famous pianist (Jacques Dutronc) in the belief he may possibly be her biological father. But the pianist's second wife (Isabelle Huppert), who just may be an amoral sociopath, seems to have other plans for the girl. Based on the novel THE CHOCOLATE WEB by Charlotte Armstrong (DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK), the director Claude Chabrol (LES BICHES) seems less interested in the potential thriller aspects of the film than the psychological complexities of the situation, notably Huppert's tranquil on the surface but manipulative and disturbed spouse. Though often compared to Alfred Hitchcock, Chabrol brings no tension to the setting, instead languidly taking his time to develop some ambiguous character development. Huppert's performance is a marvel, She's almost expressionless yet she manages to exude an imposing danger simmering below the placid exterior. I would have preferred a bit more intensity to the proceedings but perhaps that would have been too conventional. Also in the cast: Rodolphe Pauly and Brigitte Catillon.

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