More Than Meets The Mogwai

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brief Notes on "Les Redoutables": Coup de vice (Claude Chabrol, 2001)


Written by relative neophytes Stéphane Gateau and Mathieu Guillermo, this lightly likable 8-minute segment – directed by Chabrol in-between NIGHTCAP [Merci pour le chocolat] (2000) and THE FLOWER OF EVIL [La fleur du mal] (2003) -- is all about subverting logical screen evidence, as a woman motorist (Sylvie Granotier) is put off by the inappropriate chatter of a hitchhiking man (Didier Bénureau) who sells screwdrivers out of a suitcase. The middle-aged paunchy fellow just can’t stop his misogynistic babblings about his horrid ex-wife and women at large, his time spent as a butcher (or, LE BOUCHER), nor can he refuse stealing glances at Grantoier’s bare neck. After a radio broadcast warns of a Screwdriver Madman on the loose, the man even postulates on the artery that the killer must have severed in order to induce death. Of course, in the macabre twist, the woman turns out to be the psychopath, and the man an unfortunate victim of his Big Mouth. She allows the corpse to take the blame post-mortem, thanks to the considerable coincidental proof located on the body and her ruse to get him dressed as the suspect.

Chabrol re-uses the audio of the hitchhiker’s vocal intonations of butchered pig-bleats on the cut just as the woman strikes with her unconventional weapon. Disassociating shot: the skin of the neck, seen from the hitchhiker’s perspective, the first one to break from the monotony of impartial shot-reverse-shot of the two’s dialogue. I guess this would be comparable to a minor “Hitchcock Presents”, an allusion Chabrol would no doubt favor.

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