EVEN before the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) craze in the United States, crime and police thrillers have long been one of the themes of French movies. And in this year’s French film festival in Manila, murder, suspense, and conspiracy films dominated the silver screens—along with other genres that French films are known for.

Inspecteur Lavardin

A roller-coaster ride full of twists and turns is Inspecteur Lavardin. Lavardin is sent to a provincial town to solve the murder of a prominent man named Raoul, who was found on a beach with the word “pig” smeared on his buttocks.

Lavardin encounters different characters who become his suspects because of their motives. But as with thrillers, the first suspect turns out to be innocent.

As Fate would have it, Lavardin meets again Helene, who turned down his offer of love many years ago and is now the widow of Raoul. Lavardin later forms a string of connections from a theater group to drug dealers.

In the process, he discovers Raoul’s secret life and his involvement in drugs and other women.

This is director Claude Chabrol’s second outing with Inspector Lavardin. His slow but steady approach in developing the narrative makes the audience tremble with anticipation.

A comic crime thriller, the film still shows that everything is not what it seems.

Pas Sur La Bouche

Pas Sur La Bouche (Not on The Lips) is a musical comedy set in the 1950s in Paris. The movie is about a socialite named Gilberte who is happily married to rich but naïve Georges. Things turn chaotic when her former husband, an American named Eric Thompson, finds her and joins the eternal race to win her heart.

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More than just a string

Based on an operatta written by André Barde, the film is divided into three sets where all hell comically breaks loose, but ultimately ends in a win-win situation for all the characters.

Director Alain Resnais’ decision to give the viewers the feeling of a real operatta is effective. The film shows a panorama of old Paris with its art-deco designs. Although the movie tends to drag in the musical parts, the hilarious images and the colorful acts help break the ice.

Although both movies are beautifully done, it’s quite hard for our showbiz-oriented audience to appreciate them.

Pas sur la Bouche, Inspecteur Lavardin, and other French films will also be shown on June 24 to 26 at Ayala Center, Cebu.

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