is a 1995
-Top grossing films:-Events:* March 22 - The Dogme 95 movement is officially announced in Paris by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.* March 28 - Actress Julia Roberts and singer Lyle Lovett announce their plans for separation....
film by Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol was a French film director, a member of the French New Wave group of filmmakers who first came to prominence at the end of the 1950s...
. It was adapted from the novel A Judgement in Stone
A Judgement In Stone is a 1977 novel by British writer Ruth Rendell, widely considered to be one of her greatest works. The novel is famous in the world of crime fiction for its opening line: "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write"...
by Ruth Rendell
Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, , who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an English crime writer, author of psychological thrillers and murder mysteries....
tells the story of an illiterate dyslexic
Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, or rapid...
young woman, Sophie Bonhomme (Sandrine Bonnaire
Sandrine Bonnaire is a French actress, who has appeared in more than 40 films including Hollywood movies.Bonnaire was born in the town of Gannat, Allier, in the Auvergne region. She was born into a working-class family, the seventh of eleven children. Her acting career began at the age of 16 in...
), who is hired as a maid by the Lelièvre family. The Lelièvres live in an isolated mansion in Brittany. The family consists of four members: Catherine (Jacqueline Bisset
Jacqueline Bisset is an English actress. She has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award. She is known for her roles in the films Bullitt , Airport , The Deep , Class , and the TV series Nip/Tuck in 2006...
) and Georges, the parents, who have no children together, but one each from previous marriages. Gilles is Catherine and her ex-husband’s son. He is a lonely teenager who loves reading and has a passion for arts in general. Melinda is Georges’ and his late wife’s daughter. She studies at a university and only spends the weekends at home, where she invites her boyfriend Jérémie. The household chores are excessive for Catherine – who owns her own art gallery – so she requires a maid’s help and hires Sophie. Throughout the film Sophie avoids using the dishwasher, refuses to take driving lessons, buys fake eyeglasses, and has trouble giving a cashier the correct change. The viewer finds out later that Sophie is illiterate and has a history of violence since she is believed to have killed her handicapped father, or at least not to have rescued him from the fire she might have set in his house.
Once in the small village, Sophie meets Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert
Isabelle Anne Madeleine Huppert is a French actress who has appeared in over 90 film and television productions since 1971. She has had 14 films in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the Best Actress Award twice, for Violette Nozière and La pianiste . She is also the most...
), the postmistress, who occasionally works in a charity and reads a lot. However, Jeanne proves to be a bad influence on the maid since she is jealous and aggressive towards a lot of people, including the Lelièvres. The two friends meet regularly either for a charity project (that they end up ruining) or for a film; television being Sophie’s main pastime. Sophie is treated rather nicely at the Lelièvres, who mean well towards her, but their patronizing attitude and the affection they have for each other create a feeling of jealousy and frustration both in Sophie and in Jeanne. This frustration reaches its climax when Georges fires Sophie for attempting to blackmail Melinda, who found out about her illiteracy. It is what triggers the climax of the film, which sees Sophie and Jeanne seize Georges’ shotguns and murder the family who were watching an opera on television.
Jeanne leaves the crime scene and is killed in a car accident by the priest who had fired her from the charity she worked for. Sophie, for her part, walks away from the house after having wiped their fingerprints off the guns, making her way through the police squads going towards the accident. The end credits begin with the music of the opera that is being played back on Melinda’s tape-recorder, which Jeanne stole and put in her car. At the end of the credits, the gunshots can be heard and then the voices of Jeanne and Sophie are the evidence that the police can use to first find the bodies and then convict Sophie. However the film then ends ambiguously. Chabrol presents an ambiguous view of culture and class conflict in this film, which he jokingly called "the last Marxist film."
received an 90% rating from Top Critics
at Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...
and 1 rotten
reviews) and an overall rating of 92% from all critics (22 fresh
and 2 rotten
Awards and nominations
- César Awards (France)
- Won: Best Actress – Leading Role
List of winners and nominees of the César Award for Best Actress .-Winners and nominees:...
- Nominated: Best Actor – Supporting Role (Jean-Pierre Cassel)
- Nominated: Best Actress – Leading Role (Sandrine Bonnaire)
- Nominated: Best Actress – Supporting Role (Jacqueline Bisset)
- Nominated: Best Director
This is the list of winners and nominees of the César Award for Best Director .-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...
- Nominated: Best Film
The winners and nominees of the César Award for Best Film .-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...
- Nominated: Best Writing
This is the list of winners and nominees of the César Award for Best Writing .-1975–1979:*1975: Bertrand Tavernier, Jean Aurenche: Que la fête commence...
(Claude Chabrol and Caroline Eliacheff)
- Los Angeles Film Critics
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association was founded in 1975. Its main purpose is to present yearly awards to members of the film industry who have excelled in their fields. These awards are presented each January...
- Won: Best Foreign Language Film
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film is a film award given by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.-1970s:- 1980s :- 1990s :- 2000s :- 2010s :...
- National Society of Film Critics
The National Society of Film Critics is an American film critic organization. As of December 2007 the NSFC had approximately 60 members who wrote for a variety of weekly and daily newspapers.-History:...
- Won: Best Foreign Language Film
The National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the annual awards given by the National Society of Film Critics.-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...
- Satellite Awards
The Satellite Awards are an annual award given by the International Press Academy. The awards were originally known as the Golden Satellite Awards.- Film :*Best Actor – Drama*Best Actor – Musical or Comedy*Best Actress – Drama...
- Nominated: Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
The Satellite Award for Best Foreign Film is one of the annual Satellite Awards given by the International Press Academy.- 1990s :- 2000s :- 2010s :...
- Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is a publicly-attended film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, 339 films from 59 countries were screened at 32 screens in downtown Toronto venues...
- Won: Metro Media Award (Claude Chabrol)
- Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...
- Won: Volpi Cup
The Volpi Cups are the principal awards given to actors at the Venice Film Festival. Formal acting awards were introduced in the second festival . Initially they were called Great Gold Medals of the National Fascist Association for Entertainment. The name Volpi Cup was introduced the following year...
– Best Actress (Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert)
- Nominated: Golden Lion
Il Leone d’Oro is the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival. The prize was introduced in 1949 by the organizing committee and is now regarded as one of the film industry's most distinguished prizes...