In the woods, a 13-year-old boy is grabbed by an escaped convict and told to bring money later that day. The boy does as he’s told, only to be attacked by the convict’s partner. A murder ensues, and through happenstance, the murderer and the boy’s mother form an alliance.
All this takes place in four days during which the boy has his first communion, his separated parents face each other amidst grandmother’s hopes they’ll reunite, the grandfather just wants to go fishing, the school’s chaplain complains about the boy’s behavior, and the convicts’ shared girlfriend comes, gun in hand, to help them escape to Tangier. The mother’s surprising decisions complete the story.
Scene of the Crime (French: Le Lieu du crime) is a 1986 French drama film directed by André Téchiné, starring Catherine Deneuve, Wadeck Stanczak and Danielle Darrieux. The film tells the story of a crumbling family in rural France, disrupted by the appearance of a fugitive.
About the Story
Thomas, a troubled thirteen-year-old boy, picking flowers in a cemetery, is surprised by Martin, an escaped convict who demands that the boy bring him some money for train fare later that day. The boy does not know where to get money; the criminal tells him to ask his parents. “My parents are dead,” the boy says. In fact, his parents, Maurice and Lili, are alive. They are separated but they both live near the boy’s grandparents’ house. Thomas, disaffected by his parents divorce, goes to a boarding catholic school but is spending the weekend with his family and he is going to have first communion. His grandmother is arranging to celebrate that special day and hopes her daughter and son in law would reconcile.
The boy tries to get the money for the convict stealing from Lili, his mother, but then sees her sad and, in a moment of love, gives it back to her, admitting what he’s done. He goes through a series of increasingly desperate attempts to get money and eventually scrounges some out of his grumpy grandfather, who just wants to go fishing. When the boy returns to give Martin the money, the convict’s accomplice, Luc, decides that the boy is too much of a liability and tries to kill him. Martin saves Thomas’s life killing his accomplice.
Lili Ravenel, who is emotionally close and distant to her son, is worried about Thomas. He is not doing well at school, according to the school’s chaplain who comes to complain about the boy’s behavior. Lili, trapped in a humdrum existence, runs a nightclub that is situated on a river just at the water’s edge. Pushed by her mother, she had married Maurice against her better judgment and now needs to escape the stifling effects of her union with him, but he continues to want her. Maurice threatens to remove the care and custody of her son from her. Lili has to perform her marital duties even after the divorce – while Maurice screens old home-movies of their domestic happiness long past and gone.
After killing Luc, Martin arrives to have a drink at a bar by a river. That is where Lili works. He has no money and at the end of the night, fascinated by the young man, she arranges for the fugitive to take a room at a local hotel. When she arrives home, her son tells her the story in the cemetery, as it was a dream he had, but she realizes that it actually happened and the convict is the man she just left in the hotel. The celebration in honor of the Holy Communion goes on with little family harmony after Thomas wishes that an atomic bomb would destroy his school. The grandmother tries to keep the family together.
Scene of the Crime (1986)
Directed by: André Téchiné
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Wadeck Stanczak, Nicholas Giraudi, Danielle Darrieux, Victor Lanoux, Jean-Claude Adelin, Jean Bousquet, Michel Grimaud
Screenplay by: André Téchiné, Pascal Bonitzer
Production Design by: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko
Cinematography by: Pascal Marti
Film Editing by: Martine Giordano, Suzanne Koch
Costume Design by: Caroline de Vivaise, Christian Gasc
Music by: Philippe Sarde
Distributed by: Kino International
Release Date: May 16, 1986