Watch: La cérémonie 1995 123movies, Full Movie Online – The upper-class owner of a gallery, Catherine Lelievre, hires the efficient and quiet maid Sophie to work in the family manor in the French countryside. Her husband Georges Lelievre, who is an opera lover, her daughter Melinda and her teenage son Gilles welcome Sophie and appreciate her work. Sophie soon befriends the postmistress Jeanne, who is a bad egg and encourages Sophie to rebel against her employers, but the maid stays submissive. However, Sophie is ashamed of a secret and feels uncomfortable in many situations, finding a way to hide her secret. When Georges tells Sophie that he does not want Jeanne in his house, Sophie stands up to him. Melinda discovers her secret and Sophie blackmails her, but Melinda tells her parents what happened. Georges fires Sophie and she returns to the house later with Jeanne on the rampage..
Plot: Sophie, a quiet and shy maid working for an upper-class French family, finds a friend in the energetic and uncompromising postmaster Jeanne, who encourages her to stand up against her bourgeois employers.
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|7.5/10 Votes: 12,328|
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An excellent and intriguing film.
Chabrol’s film is a clever dissection of the French bourgeoisie and its foibles. Bonnaire and Huppert are brilliant as the two social misfits whose individual peculiarities form into an unnerving and unsettling friendship. Sophie’s illiteracy affects her pathologically, and we are never sure if it is her or the postmistress who have been opening the family’s mail. The film has a violent and climactic ending which is the gradual result of the two women’s alienation and eventual degeneration into killers. Outstanding.
“They couldn’t prove anything.”
Claude Chabrol has made his share of brilliant (and just decent) human thrillers in his time – human as in mostly deliciously and mostly focused on characters, possibly more than the central plot – but few have been as nasty and dark as this is, La ceremonie. You think it might go somewhere in its tragic direction, but it’s not so simple. Chabrol is toying with class here (he was a lifelong Communist, though opting to make these Hitchcock-inspired films as opposed to the kinds of films Godard made), and has a story that is a slow-burn. Slow-burn, I mean, that it doesn’t start out looking like anything special: a maid is hired by a wealthy French family in a village, with a family (mother, father, son, sometimes-around daughter) who are decent folks but, let’s face it, rich. The maid is compliant and attentive and a great cook, and soon is befriended by the local post-master. It’s suddenly becomes clear, as scenes go on bit by bit, that it’s really an “us” vs “them” parable. And, as it turns out, it’s something of a domestic horror film.
The two of them become thick as thieves- or, rather, the maid looks to the post-master like an older sister, rebellious and ‘I-don’t-give-a-bleep’ attitude that she responds to like a magnet. It’s not that Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) is really a ‘bad’ person. That is, however, depending on what can be proved (she, along with Jeanne, a delightfully wicked and unconventional femme fatale played by Isabel Hupert, has some skeletons in the closet), and looking back at her character it’s hard to tell who she really is. Is she really just a kind but illitterate girl taking odd jobs as a maid and housekeeper who gets put down a path that she can’t escape but finds all too absorbing, or was she really bad from the start and she happened to find an outlet with Jeanne, a similar but more outgoing spirit? Chabrol leaves these questions about her in little slivers, like a cake of character left here, a little there.
It’s tricky, because in the first half hour of the film, when it’s mostly just Sophie at the house with the Lelievre family, she seems decent enough, if a little ‘odd’ and hooked on watching TV, no matter what it is. But when Jeanne enters the picture it starts to unravel bit by bit, until Sophie, after blackmailing the daughter of the household (both have things to hide but Melinda is blood so that trumps all), is let go, just says ‘screw it’ and does whatever she wants with her best friend. It’s in this last reel that we see a sense of evil happen that is not the usual kind seen in most movies, almost akin to the kind of banal, pleasant if still psychotic sense of self, that one saw in Haneke’s Funny Games. Except this time Chabrol has a lot more respect for his audience’s sense of the story and characters, and the horror is amplified by how matter-of-fact it appears on screen while put to a Mozart opera in the background. It’s maturity chills to the bone, and the surprise- really in the details of chronological order- is a stunner.
The performances help a great deal to get at Chabrol’s intended mood. The family characters are made up of actors in a mode that is pleasant and cordial and understanding with the oft-subtext of rule of law and the father with his attitude towards Sophie (played by Jean-Pierre Cassel in just the right note of stern, commonplace superiority). In a way it helps that Bonnaire for the most part has a blank expression. She’s never too sad, or too happy (save for around Hupert), or too angry. It’s simply ‘oh, that, yeah, I was fired, so on’, so it makes sense, through the performance, that Sophie could be so impressionable. And it’s thrilling to see Hupert in a role like this, where she gets to cut out and be as open as possible as an actor, tough and sarcastic, mean and rude, raw and emotional when Jeanne reveals the details about her son’s death. It’s once again really brave work from one of France’s finest actresses.
The tone by the end of La ceremonie is a far cry from a happy ending. Chabrol may attempt at giving a sliver of bittersweet, or perhaps (without trying to spoil too much) shared tragedy on display. But even if it is pessimistic about the human condition, it’s nevertheless masterfully shot, written, paced, scored, acted, and directed. It never shouts out that it’s a controversial movie, but it speaks to the ‘Down With the Ruling Class’ mentality that never loses its power. Without assuming too much or being flashy, it’s one of the best uncompromising French drama-thrillers of its time.
Original Language fr
Runtime 1 hr 51 min (111 min)
Rated Not Rated
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director Claude Chabrol
Writer Ruth Rendell, Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff
Actors Isabelle Huppert, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jacqueline Bisset
Country France, Germany
Awards 9 wins & 11 nominations
Production Company N/A
Sound Mix Dolby Digital
Aspect Ratio 1.66 : 1
Laboratory Laboratoires Franay Tirages Cinematographiques (LTC), Paris, France
Film Length 3,144 m
Negative Format 35 mm
Cinematographic Process Spherical
Printed Film Format 35 mm