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France, Germany, 1995
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Written by Claude Chabrol and Caroline Eliacheff
Based on the novel A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell.
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Jacqueline Bisset
Approx. 111 min. 4K restoration.
"When Catherine (Bisset) takes on Sophie (Bonnaire) as housekeeper, her family's impressed by Sophie's aura of quiet responsibility, even though they're not convinced she knows how to serve dinner correctly. Snobbish but liberal, they nevertheless treat her generously. Only when she starts to consort with postmistress Jeanne (Huppert), a gossip whom husband Georges (Cassel) suspects of opening the family mail, do they find real cause for complaint. But by then the women have a secret bond which excludes them from the safe cosseted world of Sophie's employers… Benefits from the director's immaculate sense of social and psychological detail.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out. LA CÉRÉMONIE echoes the true story of sisters Christine and Léa Papin, who in 1933 murdered their employer’s wife and daughter. The murders were also the inspiration for Genet’s 1947 play The Maids.
“CHABROL RELISHES EVERY MALEVOLENT, ICILY CONTROLLED SHOT OF THIS PERFECTLY CONSTRUCTED THRILLER.”
— The Guardian
“Chabrol’s irony has nothing to do with the sarcasm that too often passes under that name in the movies... Instead of passing judgment, Chabrol suspends it by making tiny calibrations in the point of view, by introducing contrasts and parallels that invite the viewer to stand back and reconsider. For this master player, irony is a game of inches, and seldom has his game been as sharp and true as in this amazing late-career comeback.”
– Dave Kehr