Just Before Nightfall

Just Before Nightfall

DVD cover
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Produced by André Génovès
Screenplay by Claude Chabrol
Based on The novel of the same name
by Edward Atiyah
Starring Stéphane Audran
Michel Bouquet
Music by Pierre Jansen
Cinematography Jean Rabier
Edited by Jacques Gaillard
Distributed by Cinegai S.p.A.
Les Films de la Boétie
Release dates
31 March 1971
Running time
USA: 100 min
France: 106 min
Country France
Language French

Just Before Nightfall (French: ''Juste avant la nuit'') is a 1971 film written and directed by Claude Chabrol, based on the novel The Thin Line by Edward Atiyah. Audran won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role at the 27th British Academy Film Awards.[1]


Charles Masson (Bouquet), an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura (Douking), the wife of his best friend, world-renowned architect François Tellier (Périer). Their sex life consists of sadomasochistic behavior, and in one of their heated sessions, Charles accidentally strangles Laura. Completely confused, Charles leaves the borrowed apartment in Paris and runs into François at a nearby bistro. The two drive back together to Versailles, where they have beautiful adjoining houses designed by François. The owner of the apartment had seen Laura and Charles together two months earlier, but she does not tell the police because of François. Even though the police do not seem to have any clues to the crime, Charles has a difficult time coping with the situation, and tries to lead a normal life with his two children and loving wife Hélène (Audran).

Principal cast

Actor Role
Stéphane Audran Hélène Masson
François Périer François Tellier
Michel Bouquet Charles Masson
Jean Carmet Jeannot
Henri Attal Cavanna
Dominique Zardi Prince
Celia Jacqueline
Marina Ninchi Gina Mallardi
Anna Douking Laura Tellier
Michel Duchaussoy Un homme à l'enterrement (uncredited)

Critical reception

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars:

Just Before Nightfall is one of Chabrol's best films on his favorite theme. He has, it turns out, a great deal more to say about his characters than we think at first... The film's last half-hour provides a series of moral reverses that leaves us, too, puzzled about what's right and what's wrong: Who but Chabrol could take such a straightforward crime as murder and make it seem less contemptible than the need for absolution?[2]

Mike Sutton of The Digital Fix:

It’s a fascinating study in guilt which avoids most of the obvious narrative avenues, deciding instead to explore the way an individual deals with his guilt and the manner in which the revelation of his crime is dealt with by those around him... Chabrol’s direction is immaculate, holding the viewer with a grip of iron, and his script contains some memorable dialogue.[3]

See also


  1. "Stéphane Audran - Movie and Film Biography and Filmography - AllRovi.com". AllRovi.com. 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  2. "Just Before Nightfall :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  3. "Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix - Juste Avant la Nuit". Homecinema.thedigitalfix.com. 2005-08-13. Retrieved 2011-08-24.

External links

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