A French mystery story set in 1896 and 1914 about the infant survivor of a mysterious massacre at a provincial inn, who returns to the inn after serving in World War I, sets out to avenge his murdered parents by destroying it (hence the title), then gradually learns what actually happened. Georges Lautner (La cage aux folles III) does a routine job of directing Laurence Lemaire’s script, which is based on the novel of the same title by Pierre Magnan. Like any mystery worth its salt, this has more than a few surprises and delayed revelations up its sleeve, but in the meantime one has to put up with the implausibility of three attractive women in town (Agnes Blanchot, Anne Brochet, and Ingrid Held) flinging themselves at the mordant and inexpressive hero (Patrick Bruel); somewhat more interesting and appealing is his sensitive best friend (Yann Collette), another veteran, whose face is disfigured by a war wound. The various local cranks and other village characters cry out for the portraiture and shading of a Chabrol, and don’t get them, but this remains watchable enough for its sinuous plot (1988).
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