The Ceremony

Not to be confused with films of the same title by Nagisa Oshima and Laurence Harvey, this expertly contrived and ultimately shocking 1995 psychological thriller is still probably the best feature by New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol since Just Before Nightfall (1971). It’s a mysterious, haunting tale about a sullen if dutiful maid (Sandrine Bonnaire), a postal worker who becomes her best friend (Isabelle Huppert), and a likable bourgeois family that the two women are fated to despise. Adapted from Ruth Rendell’s novel A Judgment in Stone and coscripted by psychoanalyst Caroline Eliacheff, this film unfolds with the rigor of a dream. With Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen, and Valentin Merlet. In French with subtitles. 112 min. (JR)

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