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La Ceremonie Review

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Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) hides her illiteracy from her employers - a bourgeois couple utilising her skills as a maid - by obediently keeping an immaculate house. She befriends the vivacious and outspoken Jeanne, who begins to influence Sophie's outlook.

★★★★

Claude Chabrol’s debts to Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang are readily evident in this simmering adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement In Stone. But there’s also a hint of Jean Renoir in his benevolent attitude to both illiterate maid Sandrine Bonnaire and her feisty postmistress accomplice, Isabelle Huppert, and their bourgeois victims, Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Cassel. Consequently, this is a surprisingly compassionate study of a pitiless crime.

Superbly acted and directed with a thriller master’s finesse, it’s a nasty delight.