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Hygiene de L’Assassin

Snappy visuals, good thesping and off-putting music characterize "Hygiene de l'assassin," which intercuts parallel showdowns: a young journalist vs. the police, and the same woman vs. the famous author she's suspected of murdering. Portrait of an unpleasant misogynist's final hours is more interesting in retrospect, when the puzzle pieces have had a chance to sink in. Despite an excellent perf from Jean Yanne, "Hygiene" is in no danger of cleaning up.

Snappy visuals, good thesping and off-putting music characterize “Hygiene de l’assassin,” which intercuts parallel showdowns: a young journalist vs. the police, and the same woman vs. the famous author she’s suspected of murdering. Portrait of an unpleasant misogynist’s final hours is more interesting in retrospect, when the puzzle pieces have had a chance to sink in. Despite an excellent perf from Jean Yanne, “Hygiene” is in no danger of cleaning up.

Self-assured Nina (Barbara Schulz) quizzes Pretextat Tach (Yanne), a reclusive, dying novelist who has granted a few interviews to bestow his final thoughts. The session is crosscut with Nina’s interrogation by a team of law enforcement professionals, the smartest of whom are women. Tach’s philosophy is that “men should kill all women as soon as they start to menstruate.” First-timer Francois Ruggieri, who personally bought Amelie Nothomb’s novel, scripted, directed, produced, cast himself in a supporting role and co-distributed the result, has a background in commercials that shows a bit too much. Lensing is flamboyant and technopop snippets are irritating. But the psychology of the underlying gambit is never less than engaging.

Hygiene de L'Assassin

(THRILLER -- FRENCH)

Production: An MFD release (in France) of a TSF production, with participation of Canal Plus and CNC. Produced by Francois Ruggieri. Directed, written by Francois Ruggieri, based on the novel by Amelie Nothomb. Camera (color), Alex Lamarque; editors, Delphine Desfons, Marie-Pierre Renaud; music, Jacques Davidovici; art director, Maamar Ech-Cheick. Reviewed at Planet Hollywood screening room, Paris, Feb. 18, 1999. Running time: 69 MIN.

With: With: Jean Yanne, Barbara Schulz, Sophie Broustal, Catherine Hiegel, Eric Prat, Richard Gotainer, Simone d'Allencourt, Francois Ruggieri.

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