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One of Claude Chabrol’s most acclaimed psychological thrillers, Le Boucher stars the director’s wife Stéphane Audran as Hélène, the repressed headmistress of a small village school. At a wedding, she strikes up a conversation with the local butcher Popaul (Jean Yanne), which leads to a hesitant, strictly chaste courtship, emotionally hampered not just by their social differences but by her memories of an unsuccessful past romance and his traumatic experience of conflict in Indochina and Algeria. Things come to a head when women are found dead in assorted rural pleasure spots, and Hélène has to confront the very real possibility that Popaul might be the murderer. But is it a case of mistaken identity? And even if he’s guilty, what will she lose if she turns him in? Chabrol’s control of this material is masterly, leading to a climactic confrontation that rivals anything in Les Diaboliques for palm-sweating suspense.
Running Time: 89 minutes
Production Year: 1969
Main Language: French