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The Butcher

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Original title
Le boucher
Running time
94 min.
France France
Claude Chabrol
Pierre Jansen
Jean Rabier
, , , , , ,
Co-production France-Italy; Les Films de la Boétie / Eurointer
Mystery. Thriller. Drama | Psychological Thriller
Synopsis / Plot
Very little happens, and all of the sordid criminal events take place off screen in Claude Chabrol's exquisitely detached and austerely abstract murder mystery set in the Perigord region of central France. At the center of the intrigue is Chabrol's frequent collaborator and wife, Stephane Audran, who plays Mademoiselle Hélène, the beautiful and brash, yet shy and retiring local school teacher. As the film begins, Mlle. Hélène is at a festive local wedding enjoying the company of brusque and earnest Popaul, the local butcher. Popaul speaks roughly of his bloody experiences as a soldier, yet shows a sentimental gentility towards Mlle. Hélène. As the two engage in a sweet, if unlikely, courtship, the town falls victim to a serial killer who is brutally murdering local women--including the bride at the wedding. The atmosphere of the film becomes rife with subtle yet chilling suspense as Mlle. Hélène simultaneously draws closer to Popaul, just as she is beginning to suspect him as the murderer. As the tension builds, so does the intricate interplay between the conflicting yet similar characters of Mlle. Hélène and Popaul, resulting in a final explosion of violent acts.
1972: BAFTA Awards: Nominated for Best Actress (Stéphane Audran)
1970: San Sebastian Film Festival: Best Actress (Stéphane Audran)
Critics' reviews
  • "One of the best suspense films of this or any other season."
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