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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

All the Road Rage

Sombre (1998) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A car is seen driving on a windy road at night, veering occasionally into the opposite (deserted) lane. Cut to a seated audience of children screaming in horror (“BEHIND— BEHIND YOU!”), their intense faces glued to a "Punch and Judy" show. Some snow-covered mountains are next, then a scene with a prostitute (“Spread your legs … wider”) whom the man tells to, “Turn around. In the corner.” The tart is strangled there.

Jump to a country scene of a blindfolded kid walking away from some building. Then an over­head room light and the beating blades of a heli­copter out­side. Some kind of festival is in full swing (“FESTINA.”) Another lucky prostituée has found her john whom she takes to her motor­home and asks him, “What shall we do?” He tells her, “Cover your eyes,” then he matter-of-factly strangles her, too.

“What's happening?” (“Qu'est-ce qui se passe?”) It's the Tour de France that serial killer Jean (Marc Barbé) is following on his happy hooker holiday—in France every­body yearly enjoys a mandatory four-week vacation. We presume from the child­hood scenes—it's not fully explained—that Jean experienced some kind of one-two early life trauma that made him turn out the way he did.

Jean stops in the rain to help a stranded motorist. Timid brunette Claire (Elina Löwen­sohn) is on her way to visit her free-spirited blonde sister Christine (Géraldine Voillat.) These two sisters have their differences. Christine puts the moves on Jean (“He looks pretty good”), but “Claire is a virgin.” They end up skinny dipping (“There's only us”) in the river where Claire in response to her sister's taunts enters the water and swims off down­stream leaving Christine alone with a man who is “dangereux.”


Jean seems to lack any sense of what women are for or how to treat them. A special one is supposed to trump the others, leading to family and procreation, but Jean's picks only lead to their deaths. Claire's beauty to Jean's beast might redeem him, but this is doubtful. According to (Eccl. 10:2) “A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.” A little later at L'OLYMPE dance club, two men (Tony Baillargeat & Marc Berman) demonstrate skill in picking up Claire for “a party” (“une soiree.”) They're dexterous, know how to make the right moves. Jean on the other hand is gauche; he has no way with women and must rely on paying for it, and even then it always ends in strangu­lation. The camera captures his ineptness as if the camera­man operated left-handed; i.e. the pic is out of focus, not centered, and shaky. The cool men, how­ever, are shot with a steady hand. The medium here is the message.

(Eccl. 10:3) “Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.” Away from his home turf, traveling on holiday (“walketh by the way”), Jean loses what little sense he had to mask his aberrant behavior. His actions speak volumes (“You're mad! Get away.”) He does little or nothing to hide the bodies to cover up his crime, and when the news cycle catches up to his carnage—after the Tour de France has run its course—every­one is going to know there's been a serial killer (“Je suis dangereux”) on the loose. Compare that to the woman (Martine Vande­ville) who gives Claire a lift and tells her the story of her old love. They both, due to family pressure, married some­body else. Later right before he died, they had a (chaste) rendezvous at a Paris hotel. She didn't tell her husband, figuring what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him. She was discreet. Her heart was in her right hand, so to speak. The camera was steady on her, while Jean for his part pursued his own shaky course.

Trial lawyer and suspense novelist James Grippando has written: “‘The thing is, … That's not his pattern, two in one week­end. It's not any serial killer's pattern. Some of them sleep for days after a kill.’ ¶“‘That's the typical profile,’ I said, and I knew some­thing about this. … ‘but serial killers can become spree killers, especially at the end of their run’” (191–2). In this movie we see the spree, but we don't see what came before … except for some unexplained child­hood footage.

Production Values

This film noir, “Sombre” (1998) was directed by Philippe Grandrieux. who co-wrote it with Sophie Fillières and Pierre Hodgson. It stars Marc Barbé, Elina Löwen­sohn, and Géraldine Voillat. The acting was adequate, and Löwensohn did well with a demanding and multifaceted part.

This French movie would deserve an R rating due to violence throughout and full frontal nudity, although mercifully the violence occurred in shadow. It's in French with English sub­titles available. It has minimal music (of Alan Vega and French band Suicide) but includes catchy American pop tunes at the dance club. The editing works, the dialog's sketchy, the sequences disconnected. The movie ends panning the setups of the Tour de France spectators.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is a dark movie not for the squeamish, but it reflects a dark side of life. That it does very well, but it's not for everyone. Most movies on the shelf will be of a lighter tone. Only see it if you want to.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Interesting special effects. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was quoted from the Authorized (King James) Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Grippando, James. Cane and Abe. New York: HarperCollins Pub., 2014. Print.