Directed by Claude Chabrol | France/Germany | 112 min.
Isabelle Huppert enjoyed a superbly rich ongoing collaboration with bon vivant director Claude Chabrol that lasted well into the 21st century. Chabrol, incredibly prolific, was a towering scion of the French film aristocracy. His debut feature Le beau Serge is popularly considered to be the inaugurating film of the French New Wave. Inspired by the Hollywood films of Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, Chabrol is known primarily for wildly inventive and playfully sinister thrillers, often revolving around skeletons in the closets of the bourgeoisie. His is a mischievous cinema that sets out both to excoriate and titillate. La cérémonie was, is, and shall ever be a standout. Like Jean Genet’s theatrical masterpiece The Maids (1947), it is inspired by the story of the infamous sisters Christine and Léa Papin, who in 1933 brutally murdered their employer and her daughter in Le Mans, France. Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert do not play sisters, but rather, respectively, a young woman working as a maid for a wealthy family in Brittany and the psychotic weirdo she befriends who works at the post office. Huppert, naturally, has a gas with the part. Be forewarned: it all leads up to one of the most chilling dénouements in all of cinema.
- Written by Jason Wierzba