Cop au Vin: the village where Claude Chabrol’s whodunit takes place seems, from the get-go, a perfect location for such a mystery, brimming with dark secrets and questionable characters. The voyeuristic first shot of the film quickly introduces some characters and elements of the film, but more relevantly, a permeating sense of dread, that something is very wrong underneath the shiny surface. The film is less interested in the mystery, which is frankly elemental anyway, and more in the social dynamics of the village. The crime happens late, and the inspector who investigates it, even later in the film. Jean Poiret plays him, a surprisingly heavy-handed man in spite of his suave and quiet looks, very well. The protagonist is a young mailman, who Lucas Belvaux plays half a step away from a simpleton. Stéphane Audran, as his sick but dominating mother, is quite good. Cinematographer Jean Rabier elegant camerawork gives the film a good degree of suspense.
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