What seems like minimalist Hitchcock thrill in the beginning slowly turns out as striking Bunuelian bourgeoisie revenge finale. I’m ending up watching my first Claude Chabrol film; the man who pushed the envelope of French New Wave in 60s along with Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and company.
It opens with a slender, reticent and inscrutable dame named Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) hired and employed as a new house maid by rich Lelievre family. The family is consist of husband- wife and two young kids. Though slightly reserved, she seems to be a perfect maid for the family in the initial phase. Her dyslexic illiteracy led her to befriend Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric and errant postal clerk and that’s where tension starts rolling on her and Lilievre family’s life. Slowly it leads towards the tragic and operatic gritty finale.
What I loved about my first experience of Chabrol is the way he used sheer minimalist framing of the whole film keeping the aestheticism of the film as classic as possible. His directorial style emphasized in brilliant use of mise en scene, which is absolutely treat. Bonnaire’s act is worth mentioning but its Isabelle Huppert who’s the bitchy dame to watch without fail. Chabrol brilliantly pointed out the undermined tragic irony of poetic justice of two social classes in the striking climax where tragic opera on TV runs parallel to the life.