Opening 10 Jan 2008
Paul (Benoit Maginel), the young heir of an influential family, falls in love with pony-tailed, blue-eyed Gabrielle (Ludivine Sagnier), after watching her at the local TV station, where she is cheerfully announcing the weather forecast. Spontaneously he bombards her with his affection, offering no less than to marry her on the spot.
He is not the only one with an obsession. Charles (Francois Berléand), 30 years her senior, successful author – and “happily” married – is unobtrusively spinning his web around an inexperienced and naive Gabrielle with his smooth words and relaxed mannerism.
She is drawn toward both men. With Paul, her own age, she can be fooling around, laughing at his silly, boyish actions. But when she meets his mother, she is confronted with an ice-cold reception and a hint of dark secrets in the family history.
Worldly Charles, on the other hand, is promising her sophisticated pleasures. He becomes her teacher, pretending to give her security, but is only seeking a new partner for his own weird pleasures and has no real intention of leaving his attractive wife. Soon Gabrielle totally loses her sense of reality and sound judgment. She realizes too late that she has become a nuisance for the self-assured, mysterious Charles. It is painfully sad to watch this attractive young woman becoming a puppet of other people's games, unable to take control of her own actions. Surrounded by insincerity, she is caught up in a net of strong emotions, dangerous manipulation – and even murder.
This dramatic thriller is well made and well acted, with solidly developed characters. Like most of Claude Chabrol’s (script and director) films, it is another attack on the French bourgeoisie. Not all is well in the glittering world of high society. He is subtly scratching away the smooth surface of the façade, looking for skeletons in the cupboard. (Birgit Schrumpf)