Sight and Sound - 10/01/2005
"What lifts it is Chabrol's interest in psychology and Jean Yanne's memorable performance..."
Director Claude Chabrol crafts a claustrophobic and psychologically complex tale of destiny and revenge in THIS MAN MUST DIE. The film begins with a bird's-eye view of a young boy leaving a seaside beach and a speeding black Mustang approaching from the opposite direction. When the two collide in a hit-and-run accident, the movie's action is set in motion. The boy's father, Charles (Michel Duchaussoy), makes a solemn vow to find and kill the man who ended his son's life. Through a bizarre series of hunches, coincidences, and lucky guesses, Charles tracks down Helene (Carol Cellier), the sister-in-law of the man he suspects is the killer, and begins to seduce her in order to insinuate himself into her family life. When he finally comes face to face with Helene's brother-in-law, Paul (Jean Yanne), he finds himself unable to act, despite the man's monstrous behavior and callous attitude. When Charles realizes that Paul's son, Phillippe (Marc Di Napoli) wishes his father dead as well, the forces of destiny and revenge collide. Chabrol's dense and carefully crafted narrative structure explodes in an unexpected and exhilarating chain of events leading to a cathartic and disastrous climax, all portrayed through subtly evocative cinematography and terse performances. Decades later, the film inspired Sean Penn's similarly themed THE CROSSING GUARD.