Directed by Claude Chabrol, starring Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis and Rodolphe Pauly.
If Lasse Hallstrom's recent Oscar-nominated 'Chocolat' was the sweet, soothing side of all things cocoa, then Chabrol's 'Merci...' is its evil twin: a dark, sinful taste of intrigue and deception in the living rooms of the Swiss bourgeoisie.
Andre Polonski (Dutronc) is a famous pianist who having divorced his first wife Mika Muller (Huppert) almost 20 years earlier, decides to marry her again. Andre's second wife was Lisbeth, a brilliant photographer who died in a car crash, leaving chocolate heiress Mika to comfort her former husband and his son Guillaume (Pauly). News of Andre and Mika's reunion makes the papers and arouses the interest of teenager Jeanne (Mouglalis), a piano student whom it transpires was almost mixed up with Guillaume at the maternity hospital where they were both born. Fascinated by her fleeting link to the Polonskis, Jeanne seeks out Andre, who offers to tutor her for a major musical competition. But how will Mika react to another woman in her home - especially one that looks uncannily like her husband's dead wife?
Chabrol's film contains many nods to the mysteries of Hitchcock, Lang and Renoir but moves with its own unfussy grace - like a leisurely mystery constructed with a coffee table in mind. Episodic by nature, the film follows husband, wife, son and pupil over a three-day period, raising questions of identity through the interaction of Andre and Jeanne and the two outside observers to their relationship: Mika and Guillaume. Through every polite conversation and lingering gaze, Huppert is hypnotic as Mika, a woman who seems both willing to share her life and determined to hide her past.
While you try to guess what her motives are, Chabrol keeps the subplots simmering, from the frisson of sexual tension between Guillaume and Jeanne to Andre's growing fascination with his young charge - their keyboard interplay only serving to heighten the suspense. The last ten minutes are exquisitely timed, with Chabrol taking after dinner drinks from an innocent exchange of pleasantries to a sinister game of cat and mouse.
Weighty and ponderous but every bit as filling as the treat of the title.