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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rider on the Rain


Starring: Marlène Jobert and Charles Bronson
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 15
Available 21 September 2009

Following her rape by an unknown assailant and his subsequent killing at her hands, Millie is visited by US army colonel Harry Dobbs, who is looking for the man that attacked her and seems to know too much about the events of the night. The two dance around each other, the colonel pressing for information, though Millie is unsure about his motives and worries that it may involve her jealous husband, whilst all the time Millie denies any knowledge of the rapists whereabouts. Then another body is washed up along the beach where Millie had dumped the body...

Rider in the Rain (197 - 1 hr, 49 min, 33 sec) is a French thriller directed by René Clément, from a script by Sébastien Japrisot and Lorenzo Ventavoli. The film won a Golden Globe for best foreign picture and a David di Donatello Award for Marlène Jobert, the film was nominated for a further two awards. Please don’t ask me what the title refers to, even after watching the film twice this is a mystery.

If for nothing else the film reminds us what a brooding presence Charles Bronson (Dobbs) could create before his choices for films became pretty dire. Here is the man in his prime as the enigmatic colonel. He is able to imbue his character with mystery. Apparently on the trail of a serial rapist, who has escaped the American military, you’re never quite sure if this is all he is up to. After all he seem to know too much about the events of the night when Millie is raped - is this because the rapist uses the same MO or does the colonel have a more personal connection? His desire to find the airline bag carried by the man further cause’s consternation, adding the possibility that the events are connected with Millie’s husband, an airline pilot.

Millie (Marlène Jobert) is well named. Mélancolie 'Mellie' Mau is a nervous creature, afraid of her husband temper, but harbouring the fear that he is having an affair, that she could find the courage to not only kill her attacker but also dispose of his body becomes more out of character the more we get to know Millie. Oddly enough, through her fears she creates fortitude; certainly enough to spar with the ever increasingly erratic colonel. I’m pretty sure even in the seventies torturing the victim was never a good way to get evidence.

The disc contains no extras as such unless you count a shot by shot recreation of the film. The disc holds both an English language version and a French language version. All the actors, save Bronson, run through the film in both languages, only Bronson is dubbed in the French version.

As a thriller it works surprisingly well, as for much of the time the motives of both investigator and victim remain ambiguous. This is not helped by the fact that the rapist is slightly less creepy than Bronson’s investigator.

Although the film is well directed it suffers the same fate of a number of other French films in that it is overlong for the plot it has to play with. True there is good use of both action and inaction, unfortunately the inaction loses the film some of its momentum.


Charles Packer

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