This excellent adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s crime novel A Judgement in Stone makes for one of the best of Chabrol’s recent films. Rendell’s tale of female crime provides the director with the opportunity of updating his own treatment of transgressive females (Les bonnes femmes, Violette Noziere, Une affaire des femmes) within a modern social context. A liberal bourgeois housewife (Jacqueline Bisset) hires the working-class Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) as the live-in maid at the opulent home she occupies with her husband (Jean-Pierre Cassel) and two teenage children. Sophie turns out to be a frustrated illiterate with a problem past and whose friendship with a much more dangerous female outsider (the psychopathic local postmistress, brilliantly played by Isabelle Huppert) makes for a deadly combination. Chabrol’s cool, precise direction paints a devastating picture of social and psychological divides leading, with dreadful inevitability, to madness and murder.
Dolby stereo SR.