sat 15/08/2020

DVD/Blu-ray: Spotlight On a Murderer | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Spotlight On a Murderer

DVD/Blu-ray: Spotlight On a Murderer

Jean-Louis Trintignant broods through Eyes Without a Face's forgotten, larky follow-up

Murderer without a face: Edwige (Marianne Koch) under threat

After Eyes Without a Face, came this. Georges Franju is largely known for the grisly, surreal horror of his second feature, about a mad surgeon grafting stalked young women’s faces onto his disfigured wife. His all but forgotten follow-up, Spotlight On a Murderer (1961), is a breezy lark by comparison. It relocates the Agatha Christie-style country house mystery to a Breton chateau, where a complicated inheritance causes the corrupt de Kerloguen family to revert to murderous type. Its flightiness is tethered by Franju’s elegance and wit, and his mostly young cast’s charm.

This could easily be a nondescript Rank potboiler, rather than the work of a major director. But the script by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (whose novels were adapted as Les Diaboliques and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and themselves adapted Eyes Without a Face) has light-footed fun, mixing the hunt for the missing Count’s corpse that is needed for his heirs to inherit, and the internecine killing this causes, with a money-spinning son et lumieré show. This clunky 1960s high-tech soon fries one de Kerloguen, and sends others round the Gothic chateau’s bend. Jean-Louis Trintignant, fresh from playing Hamlet aged 29, can’t help but add gloomy intensity. Dany Saval as his young Parisienne girlfriend, whose pouting boredom at country life is perked up by the murders, and Marianne Koch as a horse-riding brunette with a taste for dominating stable-hands, balance the Trintignant angst.

The major extra is a French TV set visit, which is as evocative as the film. Our reporter saunters around the chateau, bluffing and flirting through interviews with the indulgent starlets, and icily tolerated by Franju. Theatre veteran Pierre Brasseur – Eyes Without a Face’s crazed doctor, silently cameoing here – happily dusts off a favourite yarn. Everyone seems happy to be there, ripe with promise that wasn’t always fulfilled.

“How many years do you think an actor’s career can last?” Trintignant is asked, most poignantly. “A lifetime, I think,” he answers without hesitation. He proved himself right aged 81 in Michael Haneke’s Amour, no longer suffering a partner’s impish cheek, but her dementia. Such thoughts are far away from this arsenic-laced amusement.

Dany Saval's pouting boredom at country life is perked up by the murders


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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