Movies: Merci Pour Le Chocolat

Directed by Claude Chabrol

Dad is addicted to sleeping pills. His son is a pothead. The stepmother Mika (Isabelle Huppert) wanders about with a benign half-smile on her face, lacing the family's bedtime hot chocolate with a potent--and in her hands potentially lethal--soporific. The Swiss chateau is an unlikely stoner's paradise--and maybe, in Chabrol's mind, a metaphor for the way the bourgeois sleepwalk around their problems. Merci pour le Chocolat occasionally succumbs to Mika's legato rhythms, but it is more often a sly, subtle comedy about the oh-so-gentle art of murder. --By Richard Schickel

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