The follow-up by French writer-director Cedric Kahn to L’Ennui, this compelling drama intelligently sidesteps the clichés of the true-life crime movie. That is, it doesn’t attempt to get inside the head of the killer, 19805 Italian mass-murderer Roberto Succo, it doesn’t reduce the story to a personal, intuitive duel between detective and murderer and it doesn’t fetishise the protagonist’s gruesome handiwork with bloody


Approaching the source material with a cool detachment, Kahn examines the collision between two very different worlds: that of the utterly unpredictable and schizophrenic Roberto Succo (superbly played by non- professional newcomer Stefano Cassetti), and that of the methodical, evidence-sifting police, embodied by Patrick dell lsola’s curt investigating


Five years after butchering his parents in a suburb of Venice and being confined to a psychiatric institution, Succo escapes from custody and embarks on a crime spree across southern France and Switzerland, committing murders, rapes, burglaries and carjackings. Identities and aliases are deployed and jettisoned by this compulsive liar, who seems to blend into the surrounding scenery, and who somehow maintains some sort of sexual relationship with a curiously uninquisitive schoolgirl Lea (Isild Le


Stylisth filmed by Pascal Marti in Cinemascope, Roberto Succo uses still photographs to remind us of the terrible human cost of the killer’s actions. Simultaneously, however, the filmmaker finds an element of humanity in a man whom society would doubtless dismiss as’pure evil’. (Tom Dawson)

I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 7 Jun; Glasgow GFf from Fri 23 Jun.


The ambiguity of maternal love

Another highly accomplished adaptation of a Ruth Rendell novel (see also La Ceremonie and Live Flesh). with veteran French director Claude Miller tranSposing the British setting of

he of lands to thc wintry outskirts of Paris.

The titular Betty Fisher (Sandrine Kimberlain) is a successful writer, living with her four-year-old son Joseph (Arthur Sebton) in a genteel suburb.

24 THE LIST '3 '27) Jul‘ 200?

While being visned by her domineering mother Margot (Nicole Garcia) Joseph falls to his death from a window. The disturbed Margot promptly kidnaps a boy to be a surrogate son for her grieving daughter. However. this child's mother - Carole (Mathilde Seigner). a hard-bitten cafe waitress seems unconcerned by the abduction.

Intricater plotted. Betty Fisher and Other Stories is divided into chapters. with each linked section presenting a particular individual's story: one of the film's many pleasures is the way the jigsaw-puzzle narrative keeps veering off in unusual directions while developing its range of characters.

in exploring the ambiguous nature of maternal love. Miller intelligently orchestrates the shifts in tone from the comedic to the tragic. maintaining an uncanny atmosphere reminiscent of Raul Ruiz‘s Comedy of Innocence. Crisply shot and commendany acted. Betty Fisher. . . gathers together its disparate strands for an ironically amusing and resonant denouement. (Tom Dawson) I Edinburgh, Fi/mhouse from Fri 74 Jun.

Succo the insane


HIGH SOCIETY (U) 106min .0 Dexter loves Tracy. So does Mike. But Tracy's marrying George. And Liz wants to marry Mike. Confused? You w0uld be if you could actually bring yourself to give a damn.

Despite three Oscar nominations. High Society is little more than a sub- standard Philade/phia Story equipped with a few good songs. ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'. ‘True Love' and ‘Well did you Evah?’ may be Cole Porter classics. but with nary a dance routine to carry them off. they fall flat (a musical without a choreographer. what :' .. '. were they thinking?) "‘- i. .. N . i

And so. all we're left with is an all-star Sub-standard Philadelphia Story cast (droll crooner Bing Crosby. drunken journalist Frank Sinatra and ice maiden Grace Kelly). a fancy setting (the playground of the Rhode Island rich) and some nice fashion accessories (including Ms Kelly‘s own engagement ring courtesy of a certain prince).

Crosby's comic timing. the music of

one Louis Armstrong and a half- heaned dig at the class system keep boredom at bay. But 46 years after its release. High Society has proven to be a pretty poor swansong for its Monaco bound lead actress.


WINDHORSE (15) 97min...

Lhasa. Tibet. a brother and sister are misfits in a town that is now run by an oppressive Chinese regime. He's a Cynic. she wants to be a pop star.

This well-meaning 1998 Tibetan/US film by Paul Wagner and Thupten Tsering often feels like a cross between Atanar/‘uat The Fast Runner and Kandahar: part ethnographic study of a people. part tub—thumping damnation of a brutal regime. The film's problem is that the ethnography is idealised and the expose elements are too readily signposted. Hence we never have a real sense of what the Tibetans have lost because the film has none of the tender detail of Atanarjuat.

In place of head-butting fight scenes and igloo building we have stock archive shots of the Himalayan mountains and loads of pipe music. There are however some great moments: such as when the sister takes her Chinese boyfriend home to meet the parents and she translates her mum's scornful comments about China into niceties. On the whole though this is too readily actualised: when the siblings‘ cousin is beaten up while in police custody. the film cumbersomely flashes back to show us the series of events that are more than evident on the cousin's face. (Tony MCKibbin)


DIVIDED WE FALL (MUSIME SI POMAHAT) (PG) 120min COO Smalltown Czechoslovakia. 1943. A childless couple Josef (Boleslav Polivka) and Marie (Anna Siskova) agree to shelter David (Csongor Kassai). a Jewish escapee from a concentration camp. To divert the suspicions of their collaborationist friend Horst (Jaroslav Dusek). a regular visitor to their flat (and an admirer of Marie). Josef agrees to take a job with the occupying authorities. The couple billeting a Nazi official in their spare bedroom further blocks the romantically spurned Horst '3 plans. Then. with David's assistance. Marie falls pregnant.

The third feature collaboration between director Jan Hrebejk and screenwriter Petr Jarchovsky. Divided We Fall blends irony. farce and pathos in a manner reminiscent of 19603 Czech New Wave filmmakers like Jiri Menzel (Close/y Observed Trains) and Milos Forman (T he Fireman ’3 Ball).

‘You couldn't believe what abnormal times do to normal people.‘ says Josef to David. and the carefully nuanced screenplay refuses to place its various characters into the simplistic categories of heroes or villains. The use of fast motion for moments of dramatic tension is superfluous. but there are some fine ensemble performances. and the mood of comic absurdity is skilfully maintained. (Tom Dawson)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 74 Jun; GET, Glasgow from Fri 27 Jun.

608 Czech New Wave revisited