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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Gangster > The Swindle (Rien ne va plus, 1997/Chabrol)

The Swindle (Rien ne va plus, 1997/Chabrol)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C+



Claude Chabrol is always being compared to Alfred Hitchcock, yet I have yet to see a great thriller from him despite the several we have covered on this site to date.  Competent, yes, but here he is with his 50th film, The Swindle (aka Rien ne va plus, 1997) and it is less suspenseful than amusing.  Michel Serrault (Les Diabolique, Le Papillon, Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud) and Isabelle Huppert (I Heart Huckabees, Heaven’s Gate) play a pair of con artists who have been doing short con jobs just to live comfortably for a long time.  Now, Betty (Huppert) wants to do a bigger con, even if it means also robbing from gangsters, something Victor (Serrault) would prefer to avoid at his age.  However, he does not know just how far she’ll go or what she is planning to do next.


Unfortunately, instead of an intense thriller that might combine the best of Hitchcock and Chabrol with something like Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (1990), we get a film that wants to be a somewhat (if not always) witty comic romp, albeit subdued in this respect.  Chabrol wants to have fun with the chemistry of the leads and this works to some extent, but the film eventually implodes in the lack of substance and becomes a sort of safe “boutique” thriller with few thrills.  The leads are good, of course, but they are not given enough to do and the film cannot even work itself up to being a poor man’s Charade.  This one is for fans of the starts and director only.  Skip it otherwise.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 pillarboxed image is soft but color consistent, as shot by cinematographer Edouardo Serra.  Shots of the casino early on look like early Hollywood-style shooting in their richness, but the rest of the film has more of a modern naturalistic look.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds and is not the thickest set of soundtracks we have heard from this period, but it should sound a little better considering this was a theatrical analog Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) release.  Those films tend to have a better sound and sometimes a richness missing in Dolby Digital.  Extras include the original French Theatrical Trailer and the classic silent dance short Le Farfale (1907) featuring a dancer waving a flowing gown.  This was one of the early experimental successes in adding color to black and white film and is often sampled at the beginning of a strange piece on the first 100 years of film broadcast as filler on Turner Classic Movies.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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