Doctor Petiot Review

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The true story of Dr Marcel Petiot who murdered jews in world war two, who had come to him to help them escape the clutches of the Nazis.


Marcel Petiot, the subject of this bizarre and intriguing film, was a real person. A physician who ran a busy medical practice from the comfortable Parisian home he shared with his wife (Bonvoisin) and young son, he was a man of exceptional culture, education and wit, and a dedicated doctor, particularly kind to sick children.

Thought, by those who needed to know, to work for the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France, his speciality was arranging the escape of people in danger, particularly Jews. And escape they did — via a deadly injection straight into Dr Petiot’s private incinerator in the basement of a second comfortable Parisian house, leaving their saviour to gloat over the cash and jewels he had thus acquired.

Finally caught and tried in 1946, the clinically mad genius was charged with 24 murders but proudly claimed 63! The movie follows Petiot’s exploits from 1942 to 1944. and does so in a .

But what really holds things together, is a performance from Michel Serrault which is absolutely hypnotising to behold. By now a veteran of 110 French films, many of them known here but none more so than La Cage Aux Folles, Serrault is charismatic and brings virtuoso skills to his recreation of this contradictory madman. Its all the more of an achievement in that the screenplay offers no depth or development of character whatsoever, has no themes or ideas buried beneath the facts and is a little repetitive and overlong. Nonetheless, definitely worth a visit if the subject is to your taste.

Deliberately Expressionist, highly imaginative and creates an unfamiliarly doomladen and nightmarish Paris in which the gruesome events seem naturally to belong. Definitely worth a visit.