BEING AT HOME WITH CLAUDE

Directed by Jean Beaudin. Canada. 1992.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 


 

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A murder is committed one hot summer night in Montreal. The dialogue-free opening sequence superbly conveys the grotty urban setting and emotional intensity of the situation. 

The murderer is a gay hustler (Roy Dupius) and his victim is a well-off student. He could easy get away with the crime, but he decides to break into a judge's chambers where he calls the press and police to confess his guilt. 

Most of the film centres on the police inspector (Jacques Godin) interrogating the hustler. Their performances are powerful enough to sustain interest in a film that mainly stays in the confines of the judge's chambers. 

It is easy to see its theatrical origins, especially in the opening scenes where there is a very cumbersome explanation of the hustler's movements after the murder. The use of flashbacks in the same black and white style as the opening sequence do liven-up the story, but given the source Beaudin is wise to remain with the dialogue/interrogation between the two men. 

Much of the mystery surrounding the murder, and the hustler's strange behaviour, is spurious. At first we see things from the inspector's viewpoint, and like him we are encouraged to condemn the murderer as an incarnation of evil. 

Finally, the hustler eloquently reveals how his relationship with the student began, and explains his impulsive motive(s) for committing the crime. As he is led away he is vindicated as an angelic martyr-figure (in several shots he is shown in front of stained-glass windows which gives him this religious aura). 

Contrary to convention the black and white scenes are dream-like whereas the colour scenes denote stability and normality. The hustler is a romantic who in his murderous outburst realised that he had reached the peak of emotional ecstasy and that reality and mundaneness would discard him to the gutters once more. He is the eternal outsider.

Nigel Watson 
 
 
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