[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]
“I’ve seen a corpse or two — their heads in the wind, cut in half, mouth open.”
In a small French town, a worldly schoolteacher (Stephane Audran) meets a recently returned veteran (Jean Yanne) at a wedding, and the two quickly become friends. Although Audran resists anything more than platonic love, Yanne longs for romance; meanwhile, mysterious murders shake the town, and Audran starts to suspect her friend.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Claude Chabrol Films
- French Films
- Serial Killers
Peary is clearly a fan of French director Claude Chabrol, given that he lists most of his titles as “Personal Recommendations”; thus, it’s strange that he neglected to include this well-received pseudo-Hitchcockian murder mystery in his book. The Butcher stars Chabrol’s (then) wife and frequent leading lady, Stephane Audran, in one of her most affecting roles as a love-weary teacher who clearly enjoys the company of her new male friend (her soul mate?), but resists anything more than platonic companionship; Jean Yanne is equally impressive as “the butcher”, a troubled veteran who Audran desperately hopes is not responsible for the recent rash of bloody murders plaguing the town. While I’m not particularly enamored by Chabrol’s sensibility (none of his films are titles I’d return to on a repeat basis), The Butcher is memorable enough to recommend as must-see viewing for any serious film fanatic.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Stephane Audran as Mlle. Helene
- Jean Yanne as Popaul the Butcher
- Effective use of provincial French locales near the Lascaux Caves
- The “cherry scene”
- The creepy “blood sandwich” scene
Yes, as one of Chabrol’s signature films.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)