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The least artsy-fartsy of the French new-wave directors, Claude Chabrol has turned out to be the most prolific, cranking out distressing little moral thrillers that wash up on these shores like poisonous jellyfish. La Ceremonie, based on a Ruth Rendell novel, is a tale of class resentment that slowly turns homicidal, with illiterate housemaid Sandrine Bonnaire conspiring with wacko village postal clerk Isabelle Huppert against the former’s upper-class employers. Featuring Jacqueline Bisset as a creamy bourgeois matron, the film offers the sight of three fine actresses playing a subtle, deadly game. Don’t let the help screen this one at home. B

La Ceremonie
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