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La Ceremonie Movie Review

chabrol film sophie bisset

Don't, whatever you do, watch La Ceremonie the night before the entire family cozies up to watch Mozart's Don Giovanni OR just before you go to bed (you'll be staring at the dark ceiling all night). La Ceremonie is among the select few chillers that top all the other chillers trying to do the same thing. Jacqueline Bisset is Catherine Lelievre, a nice, well-to-do lady of the house whose most difficult task is finding a decent live-in housekeeper. At last she finds a treasure named Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire), who cooks and cleans like everybody's dream servant out of a story book. Husband Georges (Jean-Pierre Cassel) dislikes Sophie, however, but when he suggests to his wife that their new employee might be happier elsewhere, Catherine reminds him how hard it was to hire someone in the first place. So: The status quo is preserved. The Lelievre family, including the kids Miranda and Gilles, are genuinely good people. They are not by any means dysfunctional; they talk to each other and enjoy sharing their evenings together. The reserved Sophie is very much left to her own devices and her friend of choice is Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), the nutty local postmistress. Georges dislikes Jeanne even more than Sophie and insists that she not set foot in the house as a guest. So: We have two of society's cast-offs, appreciated only for their work and not for themselves, AND a charming, civilized family, living comfortably in a beautiful home. Novelist Ruth Rendell's here and Claude Chabrol's got her, so SOMETHING'S got to give, and voila! It does. Depending on your circumstances and view-point, the payoff here is either the result of a mere culture clash or a case of a sympathetic Society accommodating the most psychotic denominator at the ultimate expense of—Society, of course! In any event, the splendid acting and Chabrol's expert command of the material will have you gnawing on your fingernails all movie long. Based on Rendell's 1977 novel A Judgment in Stone. Cast Note: Bisset and Cassel also co-star in 1978's delightful Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Save that one for another evening in another mood. AKA: A Judgment in Stone.

1995 109m/C FR GE Sandrine Bonnaire, Isabelle Huppert, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen, Valentine Merlet, Julien Rochefort, Dominique Frot, Jean-Francois Perrier; D: Claude Chabrol; W: Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff; C: Bernard Zitzermann; M: Matthieu Chabrol. Cesar Awards ‘96: Best Actress (Huppert); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘96: Best Foreign Film; National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘96: Best Foreign Film; Nominations: Cesar Awards ‘96: Best Actress (Bonnaire), Best Director (Chabrol), Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Cassel), Best Supporting Actress (Bisset), Best Writing. VHS

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