Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Merci Pour le Chocolat|
Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis, Rodolphe Pauly, Brigitte Catillon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Chabrol, the most Hitchcockian of the New Wave directors, has fashioned a delectable psychological thriller that rivals his classics La Ceremonie, Madame Bovary, The Story of Women, and Les Biches. MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT i... more »
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3 1/2 Stars: Switched at Birth
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 09/22/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Mysteries/Thrillers/Who done-its are by their very nature complex things and it takes a master technician to pull one off successfully. Hitchcock had it,Christopher Nolan ("Momento") has it as does Claude Chabrol, the director of "Merci Pour Le Chocolat."
The characters in "MPLC" are complicated., ambivalent and enigmatic which gives the film it's tone of deep foreboding and a lingering sense that things are not what they seem and that the characters are not what they seem to be.
The premise is pretty simple: a young woman, Jeanne (Anna Mouglalis) accidentally discovers that she may or may not be the child of the person she has known as her father. It seems that she may or may not have been mistakenly switched at birth and her father may be the famous pianist Andre Polonski (Jacques Dutronc).
Her mother (Brigitte Catillon) attempts to explain it away but Jeanne isn't buying it and sets off to find Polonski; thus setting the plot of the film in motion. We are then introduced to Polonski and his wife, Mika (Isabelle Huppert) and his maybe yes/maybe no son Guillaume.
There is no doubt that at this point in the film we are definitely intrigued: the performances are first rate (especially Isabelle Huppert's twitchy, nervous, up to no good, Mika), the mise en scene is flawless, the script is intelligent. Then...BOOM, the whole thing falls apart in the third act. And in a film of this genre, if you don't have a third act you don't have a film. What happened? Who can say for sure but the denouement is flat, trite and obvious...everything that the beginning and middle of the film is not.
But 2/3 of a great Chabrol film is better than most of the stuff to which we are subjected on the screen these days. So for this we should be happy...but are we really?"
A little spilled chocolate goes a long way.
Doctor Trance | MA, United States | 02/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far, I've seen maybe 7 Chabrol films (older and recent ones) and this is easily the most enjoyable one yet. Actually, I wasn't expecting much, after some mixed reviews here, but found the DVD for a decent price used at a local store, and gave it a shot. While I think Chabrol films are all well above average, and in terms of Amazon ratings, you can always bank on a 4 star rating, but this one had a little more. I really enjoyed watching these characters, and this little plot they've become nestled into is very intriguing. I think it helps that all the actors, especially Huppert, play their parts to a tee.
Stunningly beautiful, but unknown to the US actress, Anna Mouglalis, serves as the centerpiece of the film, which revolves around the question of whether or not she was switched at birth with the Polonski's baby boy, who was born on the same day. Pianist Andre Polonski is initially told by nurses that he has a girl, only to find out they made a mistake and he has a son. Mouglalis's character, Jeanne, who also becomes a pianist, goes to meet the father that may have been hers, and sets off a jealousy issue with Andre's new wife, Mika, played by Huppert. This triggers emotions from the past, and poses a question about the death of Andre's first wife. It also sets up one of the best scenes in the film: a moving recollection by Andre's son, Guillame, about the night his mother died.
Upon Jeanne's first encounter with Mika, some suspense immediately builds, in a very stylish scene where Jeanne is looking at a picture of Andre's first wife, a near reflection of herself as she resembles her, and sees Mika purposely spill a thermos of chocolate on the floor. This gets Jeanne to purposely dip her sleeve into it and later have her forensic lab boyfriend analyze it and find that it contains a tranquilizer.
The direction of the film, building suspense, dry wit, and superb acting performances, all make for an extremely satisfying French film. It is much more lighter than other Chabrol films, and more dialogue driven, without much culmination in the suspense. The violence found in his other films is nowhere to be found. It's more on the black comedy side, then a true suspense thriller, and nothing points to this more than the subtle humor found in the ending. From the low key remarks by Andre (remember that he's just had some sleeping medicine as well), to what happens to Jeanne and Andre's son, to the revealing scene where Huppert gets up from the couch, only to find she was just resting her head in the center of a black afghan, knitted in the form of spider web.
I don't think the film is to be taken as seriously as other Chabrol thrillers, and thus, the somewhat abrupt ending shouldn't be frowned upon for coming up short. I thought it was satisfying enough, and ends the film quite nicely. Let's face it, French films don't EVER end like Amercian films do. I think it's a unique and tidy end to one delicious film! My only gripe was not how it ended, rather when it ended. I would have loved to see more interaction between the characters before it reached it's conclusion. I'll just have to watch it again!"
Brilliant Huppert does it again
D. Parker | Chicago, IL USA | 07/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film isn't meant to be typically suspenseful. Isabelle Huppert plays the wife of a well known pianist whom she's known for years. A young woman from his past comes into his life and he becomes attached to her as a father-like figure. Without giving much away, Huppert gives the performance of a lifetime. Her latest films, including this one, have showed off her unbelievable and unique skill at playing strong yet not-quite-right heroines. In this film, her mastery of subtle perversion has the viewer squirming from something in the character they can't quite pinpoint. Ever meet someone who appears normal but gives you a very strange vibe? Huppert has figured out how to duplicate that person on screen and you'll finish the movie impressed by her as well as the pure and crisp art direction."
A sleek and entertaining thriller with the great Huppert
MICHAEL ACUNA | 02/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This French psychological thriller by former new-wave auteur, Claude Chabrol follows a famous pianist Andre Polonksi, his wife Mika (Isabelle Huppert) a chocolate heiress whose never without a menacing cup of hot chocolate, and a radiant young pianist who believes herself to be Polonski's long lost daughter. Huppert's Mika makes for a fierce portrayal of perverse matriarchy and like her emotionally scarred woman in the Piano Teacher, she is melancholically aware enough of her perversity to jolt the audience with a twinge of sympathy. The movie's biggest asset, however, may be that Chabrol skillfully lets you in on its secret immediately. From the beginning, there is no doubt that Mika poisons people with hot chocolate, and by revealing such, I'm not taking anything away from the enjoyment of the film. Its pleasures arrive via the compelling characters, taut dialogue, beautiful upper-class French locales, and sleekly edited progression of events, giving the movie considerable repeat value. Hence why the final denouement is not (and should not be) as fun as simply watching these characters seek, calculate, and kill."