Michel Serrault

Michel Serrault

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The Swindle Review

There's no denying that Claude Chabrol is a master of the French thriller. But every once in awhile, even the best throw up a brick. The Swindle is workmanlike at best, a tired flick (Chabrol's 50th!) that even devoted fans will shrug their shoulders at.

Judging by the title and the con-game setup, we're on alert for twists from the very beginning: Betty (Isabelle Huppert) is seen with an obvious mark at a casino. Soon she's got him back in his hotel room, drugged, and lets in an older man who's been watching the pair. He turns out to be her partner Victor (Michel Serrault), and they take 1/3 of the mark's money (not so much that he'd miss it) and vanish back to their RV. These guys are small time and they know it. Nothing wrong with that, but while planning their next move, Betty decides to take a vacation. She and Victor reconnect a few weeks later at a mountain resort, and she's apparently got another swindle going with a wealthy man carrying 5 million Swiss francs in an attache case. Obviously Betty's going to make a play for it, but is Victor going to be in on the deal too? Or is he going to try to nab it all for himself?

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The Butterfly (2002) Review

Very Good
First there was that disparate-age buddy movie, Monsieur Ibrahim, in which an older man and a boy pair up. Now, before Ibrahim is out of theatres comes another in the bonding genre. It's still a matter of a wide gap in ages but this one deals with an older man and an 8 year old girl. The matchup in the former was made possible by a plot point that removed the young boy's real father from the scenario -- in The Butterfly it's a never-home mother that makes the attention-starved child force herself on the old man downstairs.

The problem for distinguished actor Michel Serrault (Les Diaboliques, 1954) is in withholding his adoration of co-star cutie Claire Bouanich (as Elsa, in her screen debut) long enough to portray ornery neighbor Julien, a self-contained entomologist who is too absorbed in his butterfly collection to welcome a child's attentions. Pretending to see her as an over-inquisitive annoyance demanded professional distance in order to allow the dramatic design to ensnare him (and us) into her magnetic little net.

Continue reading: The Butterfly (2002) Review

Mortelle Randonnée Review

The 1999 Ewan McGregor/Ashley Judd flick Eye of the Beholder wasn't based on an original script, and it wasn't the first time Marc Behm's novel was turned into a film.

Mortelle randonnée (literally: Deadly Run) dates back 20 years, produced in France just three years after the book was published. By all accounts it's more faithful to the original story: Older private eye tracks black widow-style murderess, slowly becoming infatuated with her to the point where he becomes unable to do anything to apprehend her -- he's too busy watching.

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The Girl From Paris Review

The old men who farm France's glorious Rhone-Alps region would tell you that a woman couldn't operate a farm successfully, much less on her own. When Sandrine (Mathilde Seigner), a successful Parisienne who teaches a course in Internet navigation at a trade school, finds herself fed up with life in the city, she purchases a goat farm from Adrien (Michel Serrault) and shows them to be wrong.

Or does she? Although Adrien, who stays on at his farm after the sale in an attached cottage, defends Sandrine to the neighboring farmers ("She sells her goat cheese on the internet! To people in Germany!"), and although Sandrine expands the farm to include a popular bed and breakfast inn for tourists, both privately wonder if solitude and sixteen-hour workdays equal a full life for an attractive young single woman. In the beginning, in fact, Adrien spitefully looks forward to Sandrine's failure. But as this determined woman's true industriousness and drive are revealed in her competent management of the farm, he gradually comes to accept and then admire her. Meanwhile Sandrine is paid a visit from an old flame, and their night together triggers feelings she had hoped she didn't have - not about this particular young man, exactly, but about life and companionship in general. She blames Adrien in part, simply because he was right; their relationship is further complicated when the old man suffers a heart attack and comes to the realization that he can no longer imagine life on the farm without her.

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Artemisia Review

Truish tale of Artemisia Gentileschi, widely regarded as the first serious woman painter. Fighting discrimination and a dated morality, our heroine struggles to paintwhile society says no. There's also a romance with an older guy which leads to a rather drawn-out inquest, plus a bit of a Sylvia Plath mentality about the whole thing. Ultimately, there's not a terrible lot of insight into Artemisia, but the look into 1600s Italian mores is quite telling.

Coffee & Cigarettes Review


A pair of memorably beguiling, well-matched performances turn what could have been a cloying children's movie into a bittersweet heart-warmer in "The Butterfly," a French confection that eschew cuteness for character.

Michel Serrault ("La Cage aux Folles") stars as a kindly old grump of an amateur entomologist, and button-eyed, be-freckled, 8-year-old Claire Bouanich matches wits with him as a lonesome latchkey-kid neighbor who stows away in his car as he departs for a long hike in the remote Alps on an obsessive hunt for an elusive butterfly.

Unwilling to cut his trip short and (for reasons just on the passable side of forgivably contrived) unable to phone the girl's neglectful young mother, the old coot reluctantly lets her tag along -- and while the bond that soon forms between them is inevitable, it's so unaffected and peppered with little surprises that the film casts a melodious spell nonetheless.

Continue reading: Coffee & Cigarettes Review

Michel Serrault

Michel Serrault Quick Links

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Michel Serrault Movies

The Butterfly (2002) Movie Review

The Butterfly (2002) Movie Review

First there was that disparate-age buddy movie, Monsieur Ibrahim, in which an older man and...

Coffee & Cigarettes Movie Review

Coffee & Cigarettes Movie Review

A pair of memorably beguiling, well-matched performances turn what could have been a cloying children's...

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