Nathalie, a part-time model, flirts with older gentlemen and keeps their details in her little black book. She then embarks on a killing spree with her boyfriend and flatmate, using this information to rob and murder her victims in order to finance the acquisition of fashion stores across America.
Had this tale of a series of brutal murders committed by three French teenagers been released at the time of Natural Born Killers, it would doubtless have been eclipsed by the media furore that surrounded the more overblown movie. As it is, Tavernier's film, based on real-life events which took place in Paris in 1984, emerges as a taut, disturbing and utterly absorbing exploration of the horrifying banality of random violence. The story revolves around Nathalie (Gillain) - the bait - a young shopgirl and part-time model, who flirts with older men and files their details in her address book. Nathalie, her slacker boyfriend Frik (Sitruk) and their monosyllabic flatmate Bruno (Putzulzu) plan to finance their naive dream to open a chain of fashion stores in the US by stealing from the wealthy "clients" filed in Natalie's book. The trio then embark on a series of grotesque, clumsy murders.
With its realistic dialogue, the warped dynamics of its central characters and an unsettling delve into the murkier recesses of human nature, this sees Tavernier at his unorthodox best. The violence is chaotic, panicked, even laughable - its perpetrators opting to kill potential witnesses when all they have to do is keep their masks on.
Aside from the fine central performances, particularly from the magnetic Gillain, what gives the film its dramatic punch is that the violence, sadistic and shocking though it is, is depicted as so depressingly arbitrary. Featuring several scenes to test even the most hardened cinemagoer, this is a bleak, jaundiced and fascinatingly repugnant film.
Featuring several scenes to test even the most hardened cinemagoer, this is a bleak, jaundiced and fascinatingly repugnant film.