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BERLINALE 2008 Panorama / France

Death and dreariness at the manor in Guilty

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The title of French film Guilty [+see also:
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by Laetitia Masson - which screened at Berlin in the Panorama section - is deceptive, for beyond the Cluedo-like murder mystery, the director explores an altogether different subject.

A man is found dead in his country house, a kitchen knife plunged into his back. There are two suspects: his rich and idle wife (Anne Consigny) and Marguerite (Hélène Fillières), the clumsy and romantic cook who is the victim’s former mistress.

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There are two investigators: the police inspector (Denis Podalydès) and the widow’s lawyer (Jérémie Renier), who wander around the country house (where the cook continues to live in secret), each unaware of the other’s presence, every night until dawn.

The outcome of the investigation is that the characters learn to recognise, in themselves and in each other, the same yearning for love and the same dissatisfaction with their relationships that haunt their dreary lives. The film seems to suggest that the love they all desire is an impossibility (moreover Marguerite always speaks in the hypothetical past tense when she asks men if they "could have loved her") and people may as well resign themselves to eating frozen meals-for-one and surrender to boredom.

Berlin audiences did not seem to want to resign themselves to this fate: the theatre which was full for the first screening was much emptier for the second.

Guilty is produced by Rezo Films, who are also handling international sales.

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(Translated from French)

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