(Au coeur du mensonge)
Directed by Claude Chabrol, starring Jacques Gamblin, Sandrine Bonnaire, Antoine de Caunes and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi.

Following on from the recent release of Claude Chabrol's 'Merci Pour Le Chocolat' comes a postscript outing for his 1999 study of murder, deception and romance in rural France.

A young schoolgirl is raped and murdered in a small Breton town. Police attention turns towards Rene (Gamblin), a local painter who gave the child an art class on the afternoon of her death and who seems flustered by the questions of newly arrived Chief Inspector Lesage (Bruni-Tedeschi).

While Lesage believes that everyone is a suspect she doesn't go out of her way to explain that to the townspeople, with the result that Rene becomes a pariah and loses all his students. His wife Viviane (Bonnaire) stands by him but in the midst of his troubles she is drawn to holidaying TV personality Germain Desmot (de Caunes).

Part of the pleasure and the pain in watching Chabrol's films is that he's never in any rush to get to the ending and 'Colour...' is no exception. It takes in two murders, an artist's attempt to recapture his form and a woman's desire to rediscover her passion, but it moves with the stop-start rhythm of country life, stumbling upon rather than signposting any plot twists.

With the death of the child set up from minute one, Chabrol places the police investigation in the background and sets to work on building up and knocking down the triangle between Rene, Viviane and Germain. Style battles substance, monotony battles excitement and trust battles suspicion as the trio shut out the world and lose themselves in each other.

Both Gamblin and Bonnaire are wonderful as the couple weathering the storm in their marriage, while de Caunes, as the game-for-a-romp media bod, manages to be both funny and despicable from scene to scene. By the close one has died, one is well on the way to madness and the third has realised that knowing somebody only goes so far.

More thoughtful than taut but a fine addition to the Chabrol canon.

Harry Guerin