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Merci pour le chocolat
cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis, Rodolphe Pauly, and Brigitte Catillon

director: Claude Chabrol

96 minutes (15) 2000
widescreen ratio 16:9
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
When she was born, Jeanne (Anna Mouglalis) was accidentally exchanged briefly for the Guillaume (Rodolphe Pauly). As Guillaume's father is the celebrated concert pianist André Polonski (Jacques Dutronc), Jeanne is excited by the idea that she might, just might, be his real child. She makes contact with the family. Guillaume's mother Lisbeth by now has died in an accident, and André has married Mika (Isabelle Huppert), the owner of a Swiss chocolate company. Mika is the perfect hostess, but soon Jeanne sees her acting strangely. She wonders if Lisbeth really did fall asleep at the wheel, or was she drugged?
   Merci pour le chocolat, Claude Chabrol's fifty-third film, is based on a novel called The Chocolate Cobweb by Charlotte Armstrong. (The subtitles translate the title as 'Nightcap', but Artificial Eye is marketing the film under its French title.) The film finds Chabrol on top form, producing a stylish and enjoyable thriller, so smoothly done that it seems effortless. Suspense is generated more through character and dialogue than violent action, but the film's grip is sure, ending on a long-held shot that's simply devastating. Huppert's performance is a tour de force; Dutronc underplays to her, so it's only late on that we realise how much André and Mika are made for each other, and that you will have to see for yourself.
   The DVD has a widescreen-enhanced picture and a French-language Dolby surround soundtrack. A generous set of extras comprises the theatrical trailer, a 26-minute making-of featurette, an interview with Huppert, Anna Mouglalis' screen test, a text interview with Chabrol, and filmographies.
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