This was a restoration presentation of a film noir in French, made immediately after the war. It is based on a novel by a widely read and published Belgium author Georges Simenon. There is a combination of sadism, racism and voyeurism in the movie that makes it stand out. The actors seemed to be cast well and they were convincing in their roles.
Rather than being a procedural or a tradition femme fatale murder plot, the story opens with a crime having already been committed. A mysterious woman who does have the traditional markings of the dangerous woman, arrives in a provincial town and is immediately the subject of unwanted attention from a standoffish resident who others in the town dislike. She is just out of prison and is reconnecting with an old lover who she took the fall for. The loner knows more about the two of them then they are comfortable with and a cat and mouse game begins.
There is a slight hint of the paranormal, with a fortune teller at a traveling carnival indicating danger ahead. The loner turns out to have some pseudo scientific fortune telling skills of his own. The lover she has returned to is a complete cad and ultimately manages a betrayal of trust and the mob vengeance of the entire community. The stunning black and white composition, the clever plotting and the weirdness of the characters made this one of my favorites of the festival.
The son of Georges Simenon, an accomplished writer himself, came to the festival to discuss the film. His father had a wide group of friends and admirers and while some of his novels were turned into films. he was often opposed to the way that the stories had to be told. Once again, it was an interesting history lesson that included some international cinema.