Claude Chabrol has concocted a canny film that subtly looks at a case of adultery sans any false dramatics, moralizing or sexploitation tactics. It is subdued, wise and revealing.
There is a supposedly happy suburban home with loving wife and husband and charming young son. But when he finds she did not go to appointments she told him about, he sets a private detective on her trail which reveals she has a lover. He sees the man and plays the knowing, liberal husband. But suddenly the husband becomes angry and kills the lover.
After the body is disposed of he goes home as if nothing happened. But there is a tension he cannot always control, plus the wife’s touchy mood over her lover not appearing at a rendezvous.
Chabrol has fine help from his actors. Stephane Audran is incisive as the wife attached to her family and yet giving in to a romantic need, and Michel Bouquet is brilliantly right as the gentle husband who cannot play the rules of effacement. Maurice Ronet is effective as the dodgy playboy lover who still exudes charm.
A warm color envelope, that counterpoints the drama, and expert technical and production aspects, and, above all, Chabrol’s careful direction weld this into a perceptive film.