Que la bete meure

Another great film from what was arguably the most creative phase in Chabrol’s career, Que la bete meure is a subtle and highly ambiguous revenge thriller adapted from Nicholas Blake’s novel The Beast Must Die. When his young son is killed by a hit-and-run driver whom the police cannot trace, Charles Thenier (Michel Duchaussoy) resolves to hunt down the man and kill him. By chance he discovers the killer, Paul (Jean Yanne), a tyrant whose long-suffering son strikes up a friendship with Charles. The drama develops into one of ‘transference of guilt’, as Charles finds himself lavishing his affection on, and acting as substitute father to, Paul’s unhappy teenage son. Going way beyond the Biblical principle of a life for a life, Chabrol’s film poses a whole series of questions and doubts for the audience, even to the point of obscuring who actually kills the ‘beast’. The disparity between appearance and truth is a key theme in Chabrol’s work and is built into the very structure of this magnificent film.

France, 1969.
English subtitles.
110 min.

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