We Will Serve No Mystery Before its Time
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 03/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Orson Welles plays the grey bearded and portly God-like father, Anthony Perkins the rebellious son, and Marlene Jobert the young & sexy stepmother in this metaphysical Oedipal mystery which is based(only very loosely)on an Ellery Queen novel. Chabrol only uses the Ellery Queen novel as a kind of foundation, what he actually builds from that foundation has little to do with Ellery Queen. Be warned: If you're looking for a straightforward mystery this is not for you. However if you are looking for a film that plays with the mystery genre in creative and unexpected ways then this may just well be your kind of cinema as Claude Chabrol's is a subversive cinema and in his early to mid 1970's films he boldly re-invents each genre of filmmaking to accomodate his own ironic world view. Chabrol always has fun with the bourgeoisie in his films but here he expands that ridicule to include every kind of authority figure(and every kind of truth). Each authority figure tries to exert their influence, and force upon others their way of perceiving things but the truth slips through their grasp. In this film made in the very riotous year of our lord 1971, authority figures have lost their grip on "truth" and "reality". Claude Chabrol wrote a book about Hitchcock and is often compared to that master filmmaker but his films only resemble Hitchcock films on the surface, below the surface the two have nothing in common. Chabrol casting Anthony Perkins as the central conscience around which this mystery revolves is just another bit of Chabrol irony. In Hitchcocks Psycho Perkins was the psycho son of a dead mother. Here he is the confused son of a domineering father. As filmgoers who have all seen Psycho we expect Perkins to once again play the psycho but in Chabrols world expectations must be cast aside. This story takes some getting used to as there are so many things going on but if you stick with it you will be rewarded with a singular kind of film experience. Chabrol gives you lots of irony(lots of cinema in-jokes, including references to Welles films) but his ultimate vision is a unique & compelling one which will especially appeal to those restless minds out there who will find a real compatriot in Chabrol. His filmic re-formulations are highly literate & sophisticated and yet unlike Godard his interest in form never becomes merely formal exercises. He is one of those rare experimenters whose films are fun. I would recommend many of Chabrols films including La Rupture which was made in the same year as this one but also: La Femme Infidele, Le Boucher, Que la Bete Muere, Wedding in Blood, La Ceremonie."
Fantastic Cinema Work
M. Alvarez | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 06/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not for nothing Claude Chabrol is one of the best film makers. He goes unraveling the movie slowly to an impossible-to-grasp ending. An absolut black thriller, full of excitement. The cast is also brilliant, from the troubled Charles Van Horn (played by Anthony Perkins in a superb role), to his doctor and friend Paul (Michel Piccoli), to his father (Orson Welles, always good! ). Don't miss this movie!"