Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Film Capsule: Claude Chabrol's Le Boucher (1970)


Le Boucher (1970)
Directed by Claude Chabrol

This turn-of-the-70s psychodrama from the most genre-inclined of the nouvelle vague filmmakers takes a typically Gallic approach to a troubling romance between a school teacher and a workaday meat cutter whose casually severe demeanor and suspect activities may mask a murderous impulse. Following a coincidental first encounter, the independent headmistress Hélène (Stéphane Audran) is pursued by the blue collar butcher Popaul (Jean Yanne), whose bouquets of beef and gestures of romance appear to have little affect on his object of interest. But these thwarted attempts at intimacy portend something much more sinister as the bodies of dead women begin to turn up around town. Chabrol, more interested in the negotiation between the spoken and unspoken than in cheap thrills, opts to build tension subtly—transitioning from day to night, gradually saturating colors—while fashioning an atmosphere of unsettling empathy which would linger throughout his most popularly regarded decade. (Feb 14, 15, 7:30pm; Feb 24, 10pm at the Spectacle’s “Anti-Valentines”) [The L]

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