120 minutes| France-Italy| 1969| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

Erotically charged and psychologically astute, Jacques Deray’s meticulously crafted 1969 crime drama (restored and re-released) deserves to be far better known than it currently is. Holidaying in their villa above San Tropez, Marianne (Romy Schneider) and Jean-Paul (Alain Delon) would seem to be the perfect bourgeois couple enjoying a perfect summer idyll. Then, out of the blue, playboy friend Harry (Maurice Ronet) comes to stay, along with Penelope (Jane Birkin), a likewise beautiful young woman he claims is his daughter. As the four variously devote themselves to the pursuit of pleasure, allegiances shift and things begin to go horribly wrong . . .

Boasting deftly nuanced performances from its quartet of leads, the film offers a cool assessment of sexual rivalry, male pride and insecurity, and the deadly pitfalls of desire. As the sizzling, languid atmosphere turns steadily more fetid, the deceits, secrets and suspicions pile up, making for a tense, compelling study of human foibles reminiscent of Claude Chabrol at his best. (Notes by Geoff Andrew.)

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