LIES AND DECEIT – FIVE FILMS BY CLAUDE CHABROL BLU RAY REVIEW

Claude Chabrol is a French institution. That said, he has also been the rare case of a film maker retitled in a singular way, other than in a multitude. The truth is that it is the most over used description I can think of, that is of course ‘The French Hitchcock’. Certainly Chabrol was directly inspired by the master film maker (though in truth who wasn’t). Finally a new wave of thought is breaking this title apart. Thanks to Arrow, we have a selection of five very different films from his filmography, spinning on the topic of lies and deceit, that reveal the depth and breadth of his work. Allowing a new generation to find it.

Cop Au Vin (Poulet au vinaigre) leads the set, seeing deaths and disappearances intersect around the attempt by a corrupt syndicate of property developers to force a disabled woman and her postman son from their home. Detective Inspector Lavardin (Jean Poiret) is called in and launches a film career as the good cop/bad cop all in one. Film two is the sequel of sorts Inspector Lavardin. Hes back and  investigating the murder of a wealthy and respected catholic author. with bloodied beach bums and obscenity laws all a mix in this case of sea side scandal. Madame Bovary is next. Chabrol directs Isabelle Huppert, in Flaubert’s classic as the heroine on the road to despair. Film four is Betty, adapted from the novel by Maigret scribe Georges Simenon. Marie Trintignant plays as a woman navigating the nightmare of alcoholism and coming out the other side. Finally, Torment (L’enfer) is Chabrol doing the French master Henri Georges Clouzot unfinished film, as a husband’s jealousy and suspicion of his wife, drives him to appalling extremes.

If you have read this far it means you either want to invest in the film or you like Chabrol. Or maybe less so, you want to read my rather dull words. To the films, Cop Au Vin is the best on the set by a narrow margin. Its a well balanced and told tale, with the most obvious Chabrol touches. Torment (L’enfer) then comes in second but thats my opinion and should also allow you to revisit the Serge Bromberg documentary of the same name, which crafts the pieces of Clouzot’s film into a semi coherent dream.

To the restorations, the 1080p versions of Inspector Lavardin is rather average in my humble. It seems a little withdrawn and even, dare I say, drained. Cop Au Vin comes out a lot better, having a richer tone without losing that earthen pallet. The 4K however is on top form. Torment (L’enfer) is number one on the set. Damn it looks so very, very, very, very good. Madame Bovary is a bold and this is translated visually, which in turn is passed onto us with 4K!

The extras are feast worthy as well. At their very best, they are unsurpassable. See Ian Christie about the cinema of Claude Chabrol. I know Christie slightly, he knows film and knows Chabrol like possibly no one else. Film critics Alexandra Heller Nicholas and Josh Nelson commentary on Torment (L’enfer) expands and contracts the film, the source material and the work of Clouzot without missing a beat. Ben Sachs commentaries are both great but I recommend listening to them, one after the other, because as he did one after the other, it leads to a great logic chain of thought.

Limited Edition Contents:

High definition (1080p) Bluray presentations of all five films
New 4K restorations of Madame Bovary, Betty, and Torment (L’enfer)
Original lossless French PCM mono audio on Cop Au Vin (Poulet au vinaigre), Inspector Lavardin, Madame Bovary, and Betty
Original lossless French PCM stereo audio on Torment (L’enfer)
Optional English Subtitles
Fully illustrated 80page collector’s booklet of new writing on the films by film critics Martyn Conterio, Kat Ellinger, Philip Kemp, and Sam Wigley plus select archival material
Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
Disc One:

Brand new commentary by film critic Ben Sachs
An Interview with Ian Christie, a brand new interview with film historian Ian Christie about the cinema of Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol at the BFI, Chabrol discusses his career in this hour long archival interview conducted onstage at the National Film Theatre in 1994
Claude Chabrol, Jean Poiret & Stephane Audran in conversation, an archival Swiss TV episode in which the director and cast discuss Cop Au Vin (Poulet au vinaigre)
Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny
Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery
Disc Two:

Brand new commentary by film critic Ben Sachs
Why Chabrol?, a brand new interview with film critic Sam Wigley about why the films of Claude Chabrol remain essential viewing
Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny
Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery
Disc Three:

Brand new commentary by film critic Kat Ellinger
Imagining Emma: Madame Bovary on screen, a brand new visual essay by film historian Pamela Hutchinson
Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny
Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery
Disc Four:

Brand new commentary by film critic Kat Ellinger
Betty, from Simenon to Chabrol, a brand new visual essay by French Cinema historian Ginette Vincendeau
An Interview with Ros Schwartz, a brand new interview with the English translator of the Georges Simenon novel on which the film is based
Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery
Disc Five:

Brand new commentary by film critics Alexandra Heller Nicholas and Josh Nelson
On Henri Georges Clouzot, an archival interview with Claude Chabrol in which he talks about fellow director Henri Georges Clouzot (Les diaboliques), whose original attempt to make L’enfer was abandoned, and how the project came to Chabrol
An Interview with Marin Karmitz, an archival interview with Marin Karmitz, Chabrol’s most frequent producer
Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny
Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol
Theatrical Trailer
Image Gallery

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