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Que la Bête Meure (This Man Must Die) (1969)

Original Title : Que la bête meure
Director : Claude Chabrol
Writer : Nicholas Blake
Claude Chabrol
Paul Gégauff
Genre : Drama
Crime
Country : France
Language : French
Producer : André Génovès
Music : Pierre Jansen
Photography : Jean Rabier
IMDB ID : 0064861
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poster for "Que la Bête Meure (This Man Must Die)" by Claude Chabrol (1969)
Que la Bête Meure (This Man Must Die) (1969) - Claude Chabrol
 

Starring

Michel Duchaussoy Charles Thenier
Caroline Cellier Helene Lanson
Jean Yanne Paul Decourt
Anouk Ferjac Jeanne
Marc Di Napoli Phillippe Decourt
Louise Chevalier Madame Levenes
Guy Marly Jacques Ferrand
Lorraine Rainer Anna Ferrand
Dominique Zardi Police inspector
Stéphane Di Napoli Michel Thenier
Raymone Police Inspector
Jean-Louis Maury Peasant
 

Plot

Charles Thenier's only son is killed in a hit and run accident. Bent on revenge, he resolves to track down the killer. During his search, he has an affair with a woman who may be the sister-in-law of the killer. The suspect's son attaches himself to Charles, then kills his father...
 

Comments

Clouzot-esque - which is all to the good With the best will in the world you couldn't call Claude Chabrol and exciting film maker, but he can be interesting, and here he is at his most interesting.Made at a time when he (and many other directors) had for some reason forsworn visual beauty (look at "Les Biches" and you'll see a film that OUGHT to be gorgeous, and is instead rather dingy), beauty manages to sneak in anyway, besides which, all the images have a quiet, sombre grace which neatly suggests how the world would actually look to the central character. The film contains a rare successful use of first person narration.We hear extracts from the hero's diary, which at first appear to be no more than an expository device, later they turn out to be an important part of the narrative (that is to say, the diary, as a physical object, has an important role to play in the story because of what it contains). Possible spoiler ahead (although I'll try to be vague in case someone reads it by accident, it's worthwhile coming to this film cold). Towards the end Chabrol raises the possibility that the diary is not what it appears to be.There's no doubt that what the hero writes in his diary is true, and in a sense we know that it's not even misleading - but it could be there's something crucial left unsaid, the diary may be one of those books in which, in Brian Aldiss's words, "everything is clear except the author's purpose in writing it".Yes, it IS maddening when Chabrol suggests two interpretations without making one seem even the slightest bit more likely than the other, but I didn't mind being maddened.Chabrol's even-handedness works for two seemingly incompatible reasons: (1) the emotional truth of the story is much the same either way, yet (2) each possible interpretation is so intriguing it would be a shame to lose the other one.