The Claude Chabrol Collection

Starring: Fabio Testi, Lou Castel and Mariangela Melato
Fremantle Home Entertainment & Arrow Films
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 25 July 2005

A group of left-wing extremists plan to kidnap the American ambassador in a Paris brothel and hold him for ransom; the more naive amongst them also hope that this will start a political revolution. With the kidnapping a success the group start to fall apart, with divisions appearing along sexual and political lines. Meanwhile the police track them down with a cruel callousness which extends to torture...

Nada, based on the novel by Jean-Patrick Macnchette, starts like any other heist movie with the planning of the job, gathering together appropriate personnel and resources. Though, it is soon apparent that this film is more brutal than your normal kidnapping film.

One may accuse Chabrol of being many things but never a Gaullist, he seems to revel in showing the government as inherently corrupt in his films and Nada is no different. Political interference with the police and the willingness to sacrifice anyone for political ends run as a thread throughout this film. Chabrol takes an almost existential delight in showing how all the characters are undone by their choices, and in most cases are able to accept responsibility, mediated by their respective ideologies, for the outcome of their actions. The exception to this is Andre Falcon who plays the minister whose political power shields temporarily shield him from such consequences.

Fabio Testi, who looks a lot like a young Jeremy Irons, plays Buenaventura Diaz the leader of the NADA gang. He conveys a brooding intensity necessary for the part of a political fanatic who is, through personal necessity, willing to sacrifice his colleagues for his own ends. In this way he and the minister are the same and whilst they have opposing ideologies their methods are not so different.

Although the premise of the film is serious Chabrol also uses some nice touches to show the absurdities of both sides. The kidnappers, having clubbed unconscious a naked prostitute, pause long enough to cover her privates - as if her nudity, which she had so freely displayed for the ambassador,

should in some way be more embarrassing just because she's not awake. The police are also shown as brutal and ineffectual. The final shootout makes the police look more like bunch of sadistic kids, with the only voices of reason, on both sides, being quickly dispatched in the carnage.

Jean Rabier, the cinematographer, who had worked on a number of projects with Chabrol, including the atmospheric Que la Bete Meure, makes great use of overhead shots, especially in the final helicopter sequence.

It will come as no surprise that the disc comes with no extras other than chapter selection and English subtitles. As far as the subtitles were concerned I had a hell of a job getting them to work. They failed on two machines and would only work on the computer intermittently. I don't know if this was a fault of the review copy or a general encoding fault, but it went a long was to spoiling an otherwise great film. The print is fine but there are some signs of damage evident. Sound is the usual stereo.

The low mark reflects the problem with the subtitles and not the film in general which like most Chabrol films is well worth watching, let's hope they sort it out before release.

Charles Packer

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