Poulet au vinaigre (1985) is a French movie. Claude Chabrol has directed this movie. Jean Poiret,Stéphane Audran,Michel Bouquet,Jean Topart are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1985. Poulet au vinaigre (1985) is considered one of the best Crime,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.
When a small town of Normandy begins losing its citizenry in a series of strange deaths, out-of-town police inspector Jean Lavardin (Jean Poiret) is sent to investigate. Could the killers be a bullied son (Lucas Belvaux) and his possessive and manipulative mother (Stephane Audran) ? Or a pushy trio of local public figures and land developers wanna-be?
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I have sometimes written in some reviews about some Claude Chabrol's flicks that I didn't find "Poulet Au Vinaigre" a memorable work. However I watched it recently and it's not that bad after all. Of course, it is several notches below such incomparable works as "La Femme Infidèle" (1969) or "Le Boucher" (1970) but it remains thoroughly watchable. Congratulations to the English film distributors who found an equivalent for the translation of the French title into English. It is perfectly well translated. When in 1984, Chabrol starts the preparation of this "Poulet Au Vinaigre", he endured three fiasco in a row. The eighties didn't look a fruitful decade for him. "Le Cheval D'Orgeuil" (1980) got bogged down in a spate of clichés about Brittany and betrayed Pierre-Jakey Hélias' book. "Les Fantômes Du Chapelier" (1982), his first venture in Georges Simenon's universe was well received by French critics but hardly anybody went to see it. "Le Sang Des Autres" (1984) was a turgid and impersonal film in his spotty but riveting career. So, what could Chabrol do to get things back on an even keel and to be reconciled with both critics and his public? Very simply, to cook them a typical Chabrolesque dish to the core with a minimum of money (the filmmaker wanted to show that it was possible to shoot good films with a modest budget in times of inflation) and time (a few weeks of shooting were sufficient for him to shoot his film). Thus, he kept turning over the staple ingredients which made his hallmark recognizable. He needed the apparently peaceful scenery of a small provincial town. Here, he chose Forges-Les Eaux in Normandy which isn't very far from I live in Rouen! The perfect backdrop for his story. Then, precisely a solidly structured story with several functions. First, to grab and entertain the audience and his fans with a certainly derivative but catchy storytelling. Louis Cuno is a timid postman who lives under her mother's thumb (Stéphane Audran). They refuse to sell their house to a trio of perfidious, perverse bourgeois, the doctor Morasseau, the butcher Filiol and the notary Lavoisier (Michel Bouquet) who want to set up a momentous and shady estate business. As he is a postman, Louis gets information about this trio of upper-class people At night, Louis spies them and one night, he kills the butcher by pouring sugar in the essence of his car and the maverick inspector Lavardin (Jean Poiret) keeps on harassing him... Then, Delphine Morasseau, the doctor's wife seems to have absconded while Anna Foscarie (Caroline Cellier) a prostitute is found dead in a car crash. With his unconventional methods, Lavardin will find the truth... It is at this reading that we fully understand Chabrol's mainspring for the last function of his scenario and perhaps the most essential ingredient: to unearth skeletons in the closet of his trio of bourgeois and to shatter the respectability of the provincial bourgeoisie which has usually been Chabrol's trademark. He tapped it again with gusto here. But his scenario also encompasses a dash of psychology to better construe the persona of his characters and it gives more substance to his work. Chabrol served his film (and his recipe) with ingenious camera work too. It encompasses neat camera angles and fluid camera movements which can only rejoice the gourmets. To enable them to fully savor the film, Chabrol shot his story on an unhurried pace. There was also effort on the lighting and framing which are up to scratch to the aura the film conveys according to the circumstances. And the director didn't put aside his pronounced taste for gastronomy. The inspector Lavardin is nutty about paprika eggs. He has eaten 30,000 of them in his life! At last, the chef Chabrol spiced up his work with a soupçon of deadpan humor essentially provided by the apparently nice Lavardin. By the way, is it innocuous humor? One has to admit that Lavardin's methods to make the suspects speak aren't really reassuring. Maybe the cast contains a few little drawbacks. Lucas Belvaux is not bad but often bland. Pauline Laffont's acting is sometimes annoying. Jean Claude Bouillaud acts a caricatured character. But Stéphane Audran (once Mrs Chabrol) is excellent as usual. Like in "la Rupture" (1970), she was Michel Bouquet's enemy. This is precisely Bouquet who dominates the cast at the level of the quality of the acting with of course Jean Poiret. In the end, the chef Chabrol concocted the audience and his fans an eatable even tasty "Poulet Au Vinaigre" which pleased a lot to the chef's connoisseurs. It was succulent enough to prompt Chabrol to do it again with a sequel which opened the next year: "Inspecteur Lavardin" (1986). That said, Chabrol's "pièce De resistance" in the eighties came with the contemporary "Masques" (1987) which stood the test of time quite well.
There is a conspiracy in the small Normandie town where a group of upright citizens want to get their hands in the Cuno's property. The Cunos, are by no means innocent themselves, they know a lot of the movements their enemies are trying to do because Louis Cuno has access to a secret weapon: their mail. Louis, who works in the local post office, has a way to read the letters with his mother before they are delivered. Because of the accidental death of Filiol, caused in part by Louis Cuno, propels inspector Lavardin to investigate. This detective has a personal way of investigating what appears to be foul play; his methods are unorthodox. at best. He deals with Lavoisier, one of the men in the conspiracy, with an iron hand, as he discovers that Anna, his mistress, has disappeared without trace. Louis is hounded by the detective, even though he has nothing to do with all that is going on around him. By arising suspicions in the inspector's mind and by being careless when he attracts undue attention by going out with Henriette, his postal co-worker, he feels the heat. Fortunately, Lavardin solves the mystery that clears the young man and his mother, who almost dies when she tries to set the house on fire. A minor Chabrol, like the case of this film, is still interesting to watch. The film is based on a novel by Dominique Roulet, who also adapted it. Claude Chabrol works with great economy in the way he sets his film in the small Normandy town and uses it to great advantage. The performances are not up to some of the best efforts by the director. Jean Poiret's Lavardin presents a man who could be accused of police brutality in the way he deals with the people under suspicion. Michel Bouquet has some good moments as Hubert Lavoisier, an ambitious man who wants to get the Cuno property for himself. Stephane Audran, a frequent Chabrol collaborator, doesn't have much to do as the invalid Mme. Cuno. Lucas Belvaux, who has the best part in the story, gives an uneven performance. Pauline Lafont and Caroline Cellier are also seen in small roles. See the film as a curiosity from Claude Chabrol.
It is true that Chabrol loosened his grip after 'Les Innocents Aux Mains Sales', possibly horrified by his own insights. This is probably a shame; but the light, comic mysteries and thrillers he has largely produced since are by no means negligible, always entertaining and full of Chabrolian irony and motifs. In this film, believe it or not, he seems to believe in the God of marriage. Normally that venerable institution is the site in Chabrol of repression, a (usually literal) stifling of humanity, a closed, rigid world not too far from hell. With the relaxing of his style comes a relaxing of his world view. As ever with Chabrol, a young man is being emotionally strangled by his mother's dependence, her emotional paralysis somewhat unsubtly figured in her being crippled. Although the title punningly refers to the detective, and the film is nominally a mystery story, Chabrol seems more interested in his rites-of-passage narrative - the detective doesn't make his first appearance for forty minutes, and doesn't dominate the movie until the last third. It would be wrong to claim that this is Chabrol in 'realistic' mode, but he certainly gets a sense of a rural town community, its unexpected connections, the malicious schemes of its most respectable citizens; pure soap opera, maybe, but the idea of a society turning in on itself, almost incestuously, is convincing. Louis Cuno is the unexpected centre of the town's secrets, a sullen, gangly, lovestruck teenager, but as postman he connects as no-one else can, betraying his civic trust as he takes home to his mother incriminating letters to peruse, as a defence against plans to demolish their property, destroy their home. Chabrol usually deals with the threat to the home from within; the extending of focus here, leads to a more relaxed film. Because the film focuses of Louis, whose not always legal actions are treated indulgently by director and detective alike, the other characters are more shadowy, more like caricatures, minimising the mystery, making its potentially horrifying conclusions somewhat perfunctory. Chabrol doesn't let his hero off too easily, as we suspect Louis is exchanging one mother for another; his initiation into the delights of sex is in the grounds of a country house, a typically Chabrolian green space blighted by the surveilling eyes of the detective. Spying is one of the main themes of the film, from the camera taking pictures at the beginning, to Louis' nocturnal amateur detective work. In such a community, private and public space are not so clearly marked, and one's identity is as much defined by one's public role (doctor, butcher etc.) as by any personal merit, so there is something creepy as well as comic about this police (the Law) spying on the sexual act. There is something creepy about this policeman, anyway. Unlike the rooted, defined villagers, he is a rootless stranger, without motive, personality, role, except to solve the crime (he keeps insisting that he is the 'flic'), in order to do which he resorts to alarming thuggery, even more objectionable than Harry Callahan, whose heart at least was in the right place. Don't be fooled by Chabrol's autumnal cheerfulness - this is a vinaigre with a very bitter aftertaste.
I've seen a handful of Chabrol films and have so far been impressed with all of them. This film is my first experience of Chabrol's work in the eighties and while I'm not surprised at the fact that it gets lambasted by some; and it's not quite up to the great French director's previous high standards, personally I found this to be yet another great example of Chabrol's moody and brooding direction coupled with an interesting plot line and some good performances. The plot is not quite as deep as the ones seen in previous Chabrol films, but there's still plenty to chew on. The base of the story is Madame Curo and her son Louis. They live in a house that is wanted by two unscrupulous people in the village, but what they don't realise is that the son can read their mail, owing to the fact that he works at the post office - which gives them an advantage. The plot kicks off properly when Louis puts sugar into the tank of one of the men's cars, which soon results in a fatal car accident. After the disappearance of the other man's wife, a hard nosed police officer is brought in to investigate. This film has one of the strangest titles I've ever heard of - 'Poulet au vinaigre', translating literally as "Chicken with the Vinegar". Quite what that means, I have no idea. The film has a fair few different plots going on, but the one that Chabrol seems most interested in is the one surrounding Louis, who finds himself in the middle of a "war" that is a bit too big for him and has to deal with his needy, sick mother at the same time. The murder investigation does provide the film with one of its main narratives; but since it doesn't kick off until we're halfway through, it's clear that it wasn't Chabrol's main concern. The acting is very good all round, with Lucas Belvaux making a convincing lead and getting good support from Chabrol's ex-wife and regular muse Stéphane Audran, Jean Poiret; who is excellent as the formidable police officer and my personal favourite, the exquisite Pauline Lafont as the love interest. Chabrol seems to have a thing for ending his films abruptly, and that is the case here as while everything is wrapped up by the end, it is done in a matter of about five minutes. Overall, it's not hard to imagine why this film isn't as well liked as some of Chabrol's other work - but for my money it's still a more than worthwhile thriller and comes recommended.
Poiret worked with Michel Serrault on several films, and wrote the script for La cage aux folles, one of the most successful French films of all time. He's a veteran in the industry, so Chabrol must have figured Poiret could improve the box-office figures for this tight little noir. Here again, Chabrol is condemning the provincial bourgeoisie for all the venality and murderous lust they're capable of. Poiret doesn't disappoint. He's very rough with some slimy characters in this small town; it's fun to watch him dunking the lawyer's face in the sink full of water as he cheerily goes through the interrogation. He's a lot more fun to watch than Clint Eastwood ever was. The expression "pince-sans-rire" could have been invented to describe this actor.