Thursday, 28 March 2013

La Traque (1975) Serge Leroy

From an era of many a grim, classy thriller edging on exploitation, prefiguring survival horrors of today, La Traque has sadly fallen into obscurity. A great shame, though it falls short of the likes of Chabrol its still a damn fine Gallic entry, well worthy of dicovery. Eurocult notable Mimsy Farmer stars as a teacher from England come to work in France, renting a weekend house on a beautiful rural estate. She runs afoul of two drunken members of a hunting party (tastefully restrained but still somewhat powerful rape scene), but worse comes in the aftermath of the vile deed and she becomes the quarry of the day...

Now sadly this aftermath is what hold the film from greatness, imprecisely staged and shot it makes something of a grey area of what should be a complex but clear pivotal moment, contrasting uneasily with the clarity of the rest of the film. It echoes some way through the duration, rather distracting from what is otherwise an assured escalation of events, harder to be engaged in mounting suspense when the trigger poses undue questions. But by the by events fully grip again, building to an inevitable yet still devastating climax. The films notion of the varied strata of the Frencyh hunting classes riddled with flaws from social to the outright criminal and in these flaws inextricably bound is something of a bourgeois baiting cliche, but instead of absurdity or simplistic provocation La Traque thrives on humanity. The majority of the characters may not be good people but they are people, shaded and subtly played not caricatures of seething evil within respectability. Their pasts are pasts, they don't crystalise to monsters in the situation but generally hold back at every step, drawn horribly further by every mistake and every single moment by which they don't turn back. Skilled, potent stuff, backed up by superb cinematography, crisp, clear and bleak. The locations are gorgeous but damp, chill (off season) and as the film goes on seem to grow ever more forbidding along with the plot. Little more to say, though I suppose animal lovers should be warned of a couple of scenes of hunting related violence. And though the film has aspects in common with exploitation such viewers should be warned there is little violence and almost no blood. But as intense and thought provoking rural thrillers go this is close to front of the pack with a close that'll rock your socks off, highly recommended. 

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