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Claude Chabrol collection vol.2

September 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

The Breach
cast: Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Katia Romanoff, Michel Bouquet, and Jean-Claude Drouot

director: Claude Chabrol

124 minutes (18) 1970
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Arrow DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Ian R. Faulkner
When I popped The Breach into my DVD player I had no expectations or idea what I was letting myself in for, beyond the fact the film was unlikely to be the 2006 thriller, directed by Billy Ray, about undercover FBI agents, as I knew this had already been reviewed by Alasdair Stuart, last month.

As the menu loaded, all became clear: this was actually a 1970 French language film entitled, La Rupture, directed by the so-called French Hitchcock, Claude Chabrol, and was simply a repackaged 2007 re-release for the English market.

La Rupture opens with Hélène Régnier (Stéphane Audran) making breakfast for her son, Michel, when suddenly they are both attacked by her crazed, drugged up, wannabe writer of a husband, Charles (Jean-Claude Drouot). Hélène manages to defend herself with a frying pan, unfortunately, not before Charles has seriously injured their four-year-old.

At the hospital, Hélène decides to file for divorce and, more importantly, sole custody of the boy, as no matter how much she loves Charles, she realises enough is enough. Alas, Charles' filthy rich father, Ludovic Régnier (Michel Bouquet) has other plans for what he considers to be his, and so hires Paul Thomas (Jean-Pierre Cassel), the son of an out-of-sorts business acquaintance, to find something, anything, to ensure Hélène's bid to deprive him of his grandson is unsuccessful. Ludovic believes Charles married below his station and that Hélène is to blame for all of his son's flaws and foibles and is willing to do anything to stop her.

Paul tries hard to dig up dirt on Hélène, but finds nothing of consequence. Hélène, it seems, despite a dubious past as a striptease, is perfect, and so, in desperation, Paul decides to frame her. He begins to spin a cobweb of lies and, with the help of his sex crazed girlfriend, Sonia (Catherine Rouvel), who spends almost the entire film in the nude, ultimately kidnaps the bespectacled Elise (Katia Romanoff), the 'abnormal' daughter of Mr and Mrs Pinelli, the odd couple (played by Jean Carmet and Annie Cordy) who own the apartment complex where Hélène finds herself staying during her divorce proceedings.

Poor Elise is subjected to Paul's bizarre attempt at brainwashing, which consists of Sonia, dressed only in a blonde wig and pretending to be Hélène, seducing Elise, whilst an erotic film of Satanist imagery plays before Elise's befuddled eyes. Needless to say, things don't go according to plan and the film closes in a bizarre drug induced fantasy and a totally unexplained, out-of-the-blue murder.

Okay, now that I've watched The Breach (aka: La Rupture), I'm still not too sure I know what to make of it. It certainly didn't strike me as overly Hitchcockian. It was slow, almost ponderous, at times and the dialogue smacked of exposition: telling, rather than showing, the why of things, whilst, somehow, still managing to leave questions unanswered.

I suppose a case could be made for The Breach being a study about preconceptions and, in the truest sense of the word, prejudice. After all, with her iffy past, lack of money and cool exterior, Hélène could, at first glance, appear to be damaged goods with, perhaps, some unknown, nefarious purpose above and beyond her son's welfare - a motif that can be easily extended, one way or another, to include all The Breach's key players, as each is not as society and convention would have you perceive them.

Notwithstanding this, The Breach held me glued to the screen for its two odd hours, so I guess it could just be a good film. Of course, this may have something to do with Stéphane Audran's acting, which, even as the film's many closing plot contrivances start to pull it apart, still somehow managed to carry my suspension of disbelief into the credits.

Not a classic, but worth a watch (and not just for the nudity), although I'm still not really sure why this re-release of La Rupture has been renamed The Breach. The cynic in me thinks it may well have something to do with undercover FBI agents, even if this review didn't.

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