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The Kimstim Collection: The Color of Lies

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The Color of Lies is a suspenseful and unsettling film from Claude Chabrol. When a young girl is found raped and murdered in a slumbering fishing community, the chief of police, Fredeqauue Lesage (the beautiful Valeria Bruin-Tedeshci), identifies Rene, a washed-up artist (jacgues Gambini) as the primary suspect. His seemingly devoted wife Viviane (Sandrine Bonnaire) supports him in teh face of rumors, while simultaneously conducting and illicit liaison with a celebrity writer. Rene adn Viviane's lives come under close srutiny, which puts further strain on their volatile relationship. Meanwhile, Fredeqique becomes better acquainted with the eccentric residents of teh town, including a self-important TV journalist (Antoine de Caries), a small-time crook who fences stolen goods (Pierre Martol) and a curious pair of married shopkeepers (Bulle Ogier and Noel Simsolo).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sandrine Bonnaire, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Bulle Ogier, Bernard Verley, Noel Simsolo
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kimstim
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009PW45K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,486 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

This is a solid, if not particularly mesmerizing, mystery from France's master of suspense.

THE COLOR OF LIES has elements of several of Chabrol's earlier films: a seaside village (THIS MAN MUST DIE), a murderered child (LE BOUCHER), haunting psychological/sociopathological attachments (CRY OF THE OWL), a morally vacuous and predatory televison personality (MASQUES). Though COLOR OF LIES has an outstanding cast the film is almost too subdued for its own good and so viewers will likely find themselves recalling those other (and, in some ways, much better) Chabrol films.

THE COLOR OF LIES is competent but it has the feel of a mystery produced for public television. Despite the presence of some major stars (Sandrine Bonnaire, Valerie Bruni Tedeschi) it simply lacks the excitement one expects from a feature film. There are, however, some things worth noting and that for some viewers might make it worth your while.

The two leads, the painter/art teacher and his massage therapist wife are, as other reviewers have noted, strangely subdued. The painter is very passionate about his art but he has not achieved much success and so its a frustrated passion and one that is directed inward. This character with his Van Gogh haircut and mannerisms and his limp is almost painful to look at. And his wife (played by the earthy but ethereal Bonnaire) cannot seems to decide whether she still believes in him or whether she is on the verge of giving up on him and looking elsewhere for passion. She is more interesting when alone but these two do not have what you would describe as a charismatic or dynamic relationship and so its not that alluring to watch them together.
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I like Chabrol and I liked this film. Were there not a murder of a young girl in the opening scenes, it would be something of a comedy of manners, following the affairs of a married couple whose relationship is a good deal more tenuous than its bravely sunny surface suggests. Meanwhile, a mild-mannered character turns out to be capable of a great deal more inspired skullduggery than we've ever been led to expect. Chabrol seems fascinated by psychological ironies as he explores the lies and half-truths that hold people together, even while they hide from each other what's really on their minds.

The seaside setting (Brittany) is lovely, and the performances are nicely drawn, if at times a little quirky. Bonnaire's brilliant smile brightens many a scene, while it masks her character's motives - even apparently from herself. Meanwhile, the deliberately restrained police inspector, played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, is a puzzling presence, seeming to guard yet another set of intentions behind a soft-spoken, fierce reserve. Whether it all works is a matter of debate, as evidenced in the differing opinions posted here. But I found it intriguing and enjoyed the light touch, especially the cleverness of the ending.
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Common wisdom has it that Claude Chabrol's been treading water since the superb La Ceremonie, and decidedly minor efforts like La Fleur du Mal, Rien ne va Plus and Merci Pour le Chocolat certainly do little to change that view, but the surprisingly excellent Au Coeur du Mensonge aka The Heart of the Lie/The Color of Lies is easily one of his very best.

As usual he's not interested in the thriller mechanics of the film's murder mystery, preferring to focus on the effects on the marriage of the small-town art teacher who becomes the favourite suspect for locals and police alike. At once a subtle play on the nature of lies, floating the notion that when everybody's lying there are no more lies, and another of his portraits of small town petit bourgeois suspicion ("You never really know who you live with."), it benefits from superb performances from a surprisingly likeable Sandrine Bonnaire and a convincingly tortured Jacques Gamblin as the couple in the eye of the quiet storm, as well as good supporting turns from Antoine de Caunes as a smug overachieving author and local celebrity and Bernard Verley as an easygoing but quietly perceptive local cop that are more than good enough to make you overlook a horribly flat performance by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as the detective in charge of the case. She's one of the only two real bum notes in the film. The other? Well, just for once couldn't Chabrol hire someone other than his son to write the score? Matthieu Chabrol turns out another of his identikit numbers - start off classical piano, add a bit of dissonance, then a bit of pseudo-comic artful jauntiness before collapsing back into classical piano mode - that adds nothing but tedious familiarity to the proceedings. But this is still more than good enough to overcome those obstacles.

Kino's DVD is an acceptable standards conversion from Pal that could be better, but it does at least feature the trailer, a subtitled introduction and 25-minute making of.
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"The color of lies" (1999), directed by Claude Chabrol, is a good whodunnit, but also a social study regarding the way in which a small community reacts to someone that seems to be a threat.

In this case, that person is René (Jacques Gamblin), an art teacher and the main suspect regarding a hideous crime that involves the rape and murder of one of his young students. But is he really to blame? And does that matter, in the eyes of the community?

It is quite frightening to watch the power of rumors, half-truths and lies, and the way in which all that affects René. His wife Viviane (Sandrine Bonnaire) seems to believe in his innocence, but she is also lying, to herself and to him. Viviane is a nurse that is somewhat bored by her marriage, and considering the possibility of an affair with Desmot (Antoine de Caunes), a well-known writter that fascinates her.

What will happen? And does that truly matter, or the real purpose of "The color of lies" is to make us realize the power of lies and deceit, and their effect on the lives of real people? Whatever you decide, recommended...

Belen Alcat
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