Philippe Noiret gives a moving performance in this low-key, but powerful adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel that marked the directorial debut of director Bertrand Tavernier.
Michel Descombes (Philippe Noiret), a widowed Lyons watchmaker, is shattered to learn that his only son, Bernard (Sylvain Rougerie), is suspected of murdering an abusive factory security guard named Razon and has fled the city with his leftist girlfriend Liliane (Christine Pascal), who worked at
the factory. Descombes tells police chief Guiboud (Jean Rochefort) that he's never even met Liliane, and as the investigation continues, he realizes that he knows very little about Bernard's life. Friends of Liliane's tell Descombes that Razon had tried to rape Liliane and then had her fired.
Descombes is hounded by both left and right-wing reporters, and his shop windows are smashed by right-wing friends of Razon. When Bernard and Liliane are caught, Bernard won't speak to his father, except to say that he murdered Razon because he was "filth."
Despite a plot revolving around a murder and its Simenon provenance, THE CLOCKMAKER is not a suspense thriller, but a finely wrought psychological character study that also deals with politics, the media, and parent-child relationships. Dedicated to Jacques Prevert (who wrote Jean Renoir's leftist
classic THE CRIME OF MONSIEUR LANGE), the style of the movie is an intriguing mixture of modern and classical sensibilities, as it was co-written by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, two veterans who were closely established with the old guard French cinema of "quality" to which Tavernier was devoted
when he was a film critic. The script bears the old-fashioned virtues of narrative clarity and character development, but Tavernier brings to the film a gritty, authentic style, an improvisatory feel, and a jaundiced look at political corruption, media manipulation, and hypocritical French
society. Although relatively modest in both its aims and its accomplishments compared to Tavernier's more ambitious later films, THE CLOCKMAKER remains an auspicious debut.
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- Released: 1973
- Rating: NR
- Review: Philippe Noiret gives a moving performance in this low-key, but powerful adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel that marked the directorial debut of director Bertrand Tavernier. Michel Descombes (Philippe Noiret), a widowed Lyons watchmaker, is shattered t… (more)