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They're drawn to each other. She's been out of circulation for 10 years after a bad relationship, but she finds his reticent charm and blunt honesty attractive. He's lonely too, and perhaps he finds in her a matriarchal authority and maternal tenderness he craves. Whatever the spark between them, it seems to release something wicked, even primal, as if from the depths of the earth, as women are found brutally murdered.

The second murder victim turns up when Hélène leads a class on a field trip to view the prehistoric Cro-Magnon paintings in the nearby Lascaux Caves. There she also finds a MacGuffin — another damn cigarette lighter, though smaller than the one in La femme infidèle. But maybe Hélène has learned her lesson since that earlier film. Will she keep faith with her man? The terrible irony Chabrol suggests is that such virtues are the source of the most savage crimes.

“THE MURDEROUS ART OF CLAUDE CHABROL”
HARVARD FILM ARCHIVE | MARCH 11-27

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