Ruth Rendell is a successful British mystery novelist, many of whose  novels
have been  adapted for the small screen. On the big screen, her  work has been successfully
adapted by some of the best directors in world cinema. In 1995, French director Claude
Chabrol remade the 1986 Canadian film
A JUDGEMENT IN STONE as LA CÉRÉMONIE,
while Pedro Almodóvar wrote and directed
CARNE TRÉMULA (LIVE FLESH) in 1997.
Chabrol, long considered the heir to Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, has returned to her fiction for
his latest effort,
THE BRIDESMAID (LA DEMOISELLE  D’HONNEUR).

      Chabrol, one of the architects of the French Nouvelle Vague, lately has been making
these melodramatic thrillers (e.g.,
MERCI POUR LE  CHOCOLAT, 2000, LA FLEUR
DE MAL
, 2003) that showcase terrific actors but exhibit the creakiness of their plotting.
Unfortunately,
THE BRIDESMAID is another in the same vein.

      Philippe Tardieu (Benoît Magimel) is a salesman who lives at  home with his flighty
mother Christine (Aurore Clément) and his two  sisters, the affianced Sophie (Solène
Bouton) and the troubled Patricia (Anna Mihalcea). When Christine insists on presenting
a bust of a woman to her new boyfriend (Bernard Le Coq), something in Philippe  resents
it. The statue sort of resembles his mother, so there may be an Oedipal thing at work, but
he also realizes that it looks suspiciously like one of the bridesmaids at his sister’s wedding,
the mysterious Senta  (Laura Smet). It isn’t long before, Philippe not only has stolen back
the statue and squirreled it away in the closet in his bedroom, but  also has begun a torrid
affair with Senta.

      To prove their love, Senta suggests three things: planting a tree,  making love with
some one of the same sex, and most disturbingly,  murdering someone. When a homeless
man turns up dead, Philippe, thinking it was the man who had taken up habitation near
Senta’s home, takes credit for the death in a bout of false bravado. Of course,  this leads
to revelations from his paramour and a denouement that is more histrionic than necessary.

      I’m continually impressed with Magimel as an actor and totally enjoyed his work here.
Relative newcomer Smet, the daughter of Nathalie Baye and singer Johnny Halliday, does
a terrific job with a part that is more ideal than flesh and blood. While
THE BRIDESMAID,
shot by the gifted cinematographer Eduardo Serra, is not on par with  some of Chabrol’s
best work, it is very much in keeping with his themes.


                                             
Rating:                             B -
                                             
MPAA Rating:                NONE
                                             
Running time:               110 mins.
The Bridesmaid
(La Demoiselle d'honneur)
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.