Film of the Week | La Cérémonie (1995)

Inspired from the real life murder of a family by the Papin sisters, a murder which provoked class-conflict intellectual debate and even influenced French intellectual stalwarts such as Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre and Jacques Lacan, this Claude Chabrol thriller is a commentary on the elite class across the world and the class-conflict between them and their help. The film is not outrightly philosophical in its flow but demands a closer look for grasping the idea sought to be projected.

Sophie Bonhomme is a silent, diligent and hard-working maid with the best references in town, who is hired by the Lelièvre family, an elite family living in an isolated mansion in Brittany. The film explores Sophie’s insecurities and her evolution into what she finally does, that is, shoot her employers dead, her meeting with Jeanne the post-mistress who, as the elites would say, poisons her brain with the idea of freedom and liberty. They develop an intimate relationship which becomes an unbreakable bond and a bond which concomitantly leads to the massacre. It is in that final scene that the class-conflict exposes itself in a vulgar display of power, through the barrels of the shotguns.

Catharsis rating: 4/5

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