Merci pour le chocolat
Eight Thrillers by Chabrol
2000/color/99 min. | Scr: Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff; dir: Claude Chabrol; w/ Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis
The fascinating actress Isabelle Huppert, who embodies the kind of barely concealed perversity Hitchcock salivated over, is the couture-attired, hard nut inside this creamy cinematic confection that focuses on a Lausanne couple—André (Dutronc), a concert pianist whose first wife died in a mysterious auto accident, and Mika (Huppert) the imperious, scheming heiress of a Swiss chocolate empire. When beautiful young Jeanne, who may or may not be André's daughter, enters the home, tensions mount and alliances shift; yet each evening, the implacable Mika goes on serving hot chocolate made with her "special" recipe. Tracking through the elegant rooms to the strains of Rachmaninoff and Debussy—"smooth as a ride in a DS Citroën" writes Guardian critic Peter Lennon—Chabrol catches his characters in private moments, peeling back the layers of duplicity that cloak this well-heeled family. As this impeccably directed film draws to a close the camera slowly circles Huppert as she reclines with an impassive expression on her face: it is one of the most memorable culminating images in Chabrol's entire oeuvre. "Chabrol has always enjoyed puncturing the balloon of bourgeois complacency… and working from a 1948 recipe by a sometime scriptwriter for 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', Chabrol knocks off a witty, psychological confection-more gothic than noir-with tasty Isabelle Huppert at its center. Self-contained, enigmatic, illuminated from within, Huppert banks a performance that pays dividends throughout the film."—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice.
View the film's trailer here.