Utpal Borpujari

June 30, 2009

DVD Reviews: A Judgement In Stone / The Color of Lies

By Utpal Borpujari

One of the father figures of the French New Wave, Claude Chabrol, like François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Eric Rohmer, took film criticism to new heights through Cahiers du Cinema before turning filmmaker. A master who has been traversing from one genre to another effortlessly, Chabrol’s films have been marked by explorations of the human psyche, and A Jugement in Stone and The Color of Lies are among Chabrol’s most-accomplished works.

Adapted from a Ruth Rendell thriller, A Judgement in Stone (1995) was Chabrol’s 48th film, one he described as the “last Marxist film”. A thriller that draws its strength from the psychological power play its characters indulge in, the film is about a young woman Sophie, whose insecurities are utilised to devastating effect by a postal worker named Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert). Jeanne uses Sophie to achieve her goals against the latter’s employer, Catherine Lelievre (Jacqueline Bisset), and her family. It is a masterly tale on deception and lies, and how lonely, insecure minds can be manipulated easily. The film’s bleak atmosphere is accentuated by its bleaker settings that Chabrol deliberately chose.

The Color of Lies, made four years later, is another suspense drama in which Chabrol again explores the human mind, this time focusing on the perception of truth and lies. Set in the same seaside town of St Malo in Brittany as A Judgement in Stone, it is the story of an artist caught in the vortex of two murders – one of a young girl student of his, who is raped before being killed, and the other of a popular writer-journalist who was a suspect of the first murder till he himself is killed. To add to the twists in the story, the writer is found to be having an affair with the artist’s beautiful wife. Chabrol shows his acute sense of drama in the film, focusing on the psychology of the characters than trying to identify the killer (s). This is a film, in typical Chabrol fashion, in which the viewer will have his mind stimulated.

(A Judgement In Stone / The Color of Lies; dir: Claude Chabrol; Shemaroo World Cinema; Rs 349 each)

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 28-06-2009)

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