Monday, 25 April 2011

Que La Bete Meure - review

In recent months, I have posted about a couple of films directed by the legendary Claude Chabrol, and now I have watched a third, Que La Bete Meure, which certainly counts as one of his major achievements. This is the, which opens in chilling fashion. A small boy is walking back to his home in a quiet French village when a car comes careering along, knocks him down and kills him.

His father, played by Michael Duchaussoy, starts to write a diary, which makes it clear that he is determined to track down the driver of the car, and take murderous revenge. The police fail to find the culprit, but a lucky chance puts the father on the right trail. He establishes that the driver was a businessman who owns a garage, and that he was accompanied by a young actress with whom he had had a fling.

The father begins a relationship with the actress, and she introduces him to the garage owner and his family. Almost everyone hates the garage owner, a selfish bully with few redeeming features, but when the father has the chance to kill the man he's pursuing so relentlessly, he does not take it. Nevertheless, in due course, justice is done – but who is responsible? The ending is ambiguous.

I enjoyed the film, and I enjoyed the book on which it is based – The Beast Must Die, by Nicholas Blake – when I read it a couple of years ago. But the two are very different. Blake's novel has a clever twist absent from the movie version, and features his regular series detective, Nigel Strangeways, whereas the film focuses on psychological suspense rather than mystification. Both book and film are, however, highly accomplished and have stood the test of time.


Anonymous said...

Martin - So often when a book differs significantly from the film one or the other is a disappointment. I'm glad you enjoyed both of these.

Martin Edwards said...

Yes, both are worthwhile and I think you'd like them, Margot.