OK. Bit of a rule breaker here. This is an old film, so I’m not going to do this often. But it was great! And you won’t have heard of it. And I’ve got a bit of time on my hands (but that’s another story).
Picture the scene:
I had to get up really early on a cold Saturday October morning to go to a seminar. It was heaving down with rain and I was grumpy. So me and these 5 other people sat down in this huge empty auditorium – 9.00am – in these uncomfortable metal chairs. The kind that are always dug out from the room marked ‘Pain’ at these sort of events. Then an announcement comes on: “Before the seminar we’d like to show you this French film.”
“God noooooo!” I’m thinking. “I’m just not in the mood for some arty farty boring subtitled film.”
(I was a bit of an idiot in those days when it came to subtitles and foreign language films. And I had no hot chocolate on me to soothe my sorrows.)
What’s more the film didn’t start off too hot neither.
35ish Claire (Michèle Laroque) has decided she needs to settle down and get married, but she’s single. She doesn’t have a boyfriend. Her biological clock is ticking.
This didn’t sound like a good setup, I knew where this was going: it was a one way trip to La Boredom. But it’s shot nicely so I’ll hang in there.
But then Claire has three male friends and she’s going to pick one to marry.
I’m shuffling in my bum-numbing seat and thinking about blowing the seminar entirely. God it’s cold in here.
So she invites them over for dinner and…
…accidentally kills them all – one by one – in entirely believable and ingenious ways.
This was now laugh out loud black comedy. Coen brothers territory but funnier. All six of us in the audience are trying not to choke.
And it just got funnier:
After she’s killed two of her friends, and failed to hide the bodies properly, her last remaining friend discovers whats been occurring and panics. He shuts himself in her bedroom, and pushes the end of a bookcase against the door. Maybe he can save himself from this apparently deranged and psychotic woman?
He sits down, and leans back against the other end of the bookcase to keep the door from opening.
She’s banging on the door “It was an accident! I didn’t mean to kill them!…. Both times!” Or words to that affect (and in French). I can’t remember exactly.
On top of the bookcase is an ice-skate.
Claire’s banging on the door, blokey is on the floor freaked out.
Bang, bang, bang goes the door against the bookcase.
The ice-skate falls and embeds itself in the guy’s skull. But he’s alive – that’s not fatal.
“Are you ok?” Claire calls out from the other side of the door, now that her friend has gone quiet.
Thump, thump, thump as the door rattles against the bookcase. Very slowly Claire’s bowling ball, which we now learn she keeps on the top shelf, gently rolls off and…WHAP! Smacks the top of that ice-skate – with dire consequences.
Of course there’s no way I can do this scene justice, but the film was an absolute delight. I mean I’m banging on about it now and it was like 10 years ago when I saw it! It came out in France, during the 1998 World Cup staged where? France. So no one went to see it. And it’s been released on DVD in Germany.
As far as I am aware, that is it.
At one time Sean Penn had the remake rights but I don’t know if that is still the case. I met James Huth once and even he didn’t have a copy of the film. James is doing OK though, one of his more recent films (which I haven’t seen) ‘The Brice Man’ was No. 2 in the French box office for 2005 – after Star Wars: the something or other.
If you happen to have a copy, with English subtitles, please let me know. I’d love to see it again.