Stephane Audran and Jean-Pierre Cassel head an excellent cast in Claude Chabrol's LA RUPTURE, a sordid and surreal look at the breakup of a marriage that has the morbid fascination of a snake pit as viewed through the microscope of a brilliant, but misanthropic, scientist.
In a state of LSD-induced mania, Charles Regnier (Jean-Claude Drouot) attacks his wife, Helene (Stephane Audran), and seriously injures their four-year-old son, Michel (Laurent Brunschwick). Helene takes Michel to the hospital, and Charles goes home to his wealthy industrialist father's house.
Helene gets a room in a boarding house across from the hospital and begins divorce proceedings against Charles, but his father (Michel Bouquet), who never approved of Helene since she came from a low-class background and works as a barmaid, determines to get custody of Michel. He hires a friend of
Charles's, named Paul (Jean-Pierre Cassel), to spy on Helene and get proof of her immoral character. Paul befriends Helene at the hospital, pretending that he's ill, and moves into the boarding house to dig up dirt on her, but can't find anything and reports to Mr. Regnier that he'll have to
With the help of his nymphomaniac girlfriend, Paul concocts an elaborate plan to frame Helene by drugging the retarded daughter of the boarding house's landlords, and making it look like Helene seduced her. However, the plan backfires when Helene discovers that Paul is not sick and has been
spying on her for Mr. Regnier. Helene goes to see Charles to reconcile with him, but he's too unstable to leave with her, so she returns to the boarding house. The day of the custody hearing, Paul slips LSD in Helene's orange juice and she wanders outside in a psychedelic daze. Charles leaves home
and throws his mother down the stairs when she tries to stop him from seeing Helene. He goes to the boarding house and attacks Paul, who stabs him to death, and Helene manages to go to the hospital to get her son.
While LA RUPTURE is not one of Chabrol's greatest films, it's still a good example of how a world-class filmmaker can take a story which in essence is no different than scores of routine TV movies about child custody battles, abusive husbands, and manipulative in-laws, and transform it into a
highly personal and idiosyncratic film by placing the plot within the framework of a dreamlike style that has a hallucinatory texture to it. Chabrol has always been a cold and pitiless observer of class divisions and the hypocritical mores of bourgeois society, but in LA RUPTURE, he's even more
cynical than usual, showing no mercy for any of the characters. Charles is a wacked-out druggie, his father is a ruthless capitalist, and his mother an oblivious idiot. Paul is a greedy, amoral opportunist, and all of the tenants at the boarding house are depicted as eccentric fools. Even Helene,
whom we should feel sympathy for if only because of her predicament and her devotion to her injured son, comes across as an empty-headed cipher who floats about aimlessly, much like the balloons that are frequently glimpsed in the park near the hospital. The shock of the pre-credit sequence, where
a wild-eyed Charles stumbles out of bed and suddenly picks up his son and flings him across the room, sets the stage for this dispassionate study of cruelty and the casual horrors of modern life that have no explanation. There is no attempt to offer facile psychological motivations or to
rationalize the behavior of the characters; they do what they do simply "because." The film is really about distorted states of consciousness and Chabrol's direction reflects that in his frequent cutaways to seemingly meaningless objects within a scene, or the plethora of strange, unmotivated
camera movements that create a disturbing unbalance. LA RUPTURE is an insane movie about insane people in a world gone insane. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Review: Stephane Audran and Jean-Pierre Cassel head an excellent cast in Claude Chabrol's LA RUPTURE, a sordid and surreal look at the breakup of a marriage that has the morbid fascination of a snake pit as viewed through the microscope of a brilliant, but misanth… (more)