Colonel Chabert

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: +3

In 1807 one of Napoleon's officers, Col. Chabert (Gerard Depardieu), was declared dead in a battle killing 10,000 soldiers. A dirty, shabby stranger appears at the law offices of Derville (Fabrice Luchini) ten years later. After a vivid description of being thrown in a mass grave with hundreds of dead soldiers, miraculously rescued by farmers, sent to insane asylums and ultimately ending up in jail, the stranger convinces the lawyer that he is Col. Chabert. He has discovered that his wife, Rose (Fanny Ardant), inherited his sizable estate, married an ambitious Count, and has no intention of acknowledging the return of her "dead" husband. Although the lawyer represented the wife in settling the estate, he has no qualms about helping the Colonel reclaim his estate and identity. Can Derville prove this strange man is the "dead" Colonel? Rose, in the meantime, has her own problems. The count she has married has been advised he must choose between "ambition and the pillow" if he wants to advance, as Rose has a somewhat shady past. Will the crafty, manipulative Rose be able to outsmart Chabert, her present husband and the lawyer? This French film with English subtitles will appeal to mature audiences who appreciate thought-provoking stories, top-notch acting and a beautiful musical score.

The opening scene of COLONEL CHABERT makes it look like a violent war film, but it explains the traumatic horror of being buried alive. The grotesque images of frozen corpses are difficult to look at, but the camera switches abruptly to the bright, colorful setting of France's upper class. The Colonel, a former powerful military leader, has evolved into a soul-searching recluse determined to reclaim his status and fortune. His legal battle to regain his fortune becomes secondary to protecting his honor, however, when he witnesses Rose's greedy manipulations. Hewould settle for a small allowance that would buy him shelter, tobacco and a loaf of bread. Even though Derville seems a bit self-serving by representing opposing parties in a lawsuit, he understands both Rose and the Colonel well enough to seemingly appease them both. The Colonel describes death as cold, peaceful and quiet, but never acknowledges God as being responsible for his miraculous survival. Yet he ends up living in a monastery, attended by nuns. He seems stripped of any desire to lead an active life, which is rather depressing. The dialogue contains two exclamatory profanities and a few crudities, but the film has no sexual content. COLONEL CHABERT is a strangely moving story that may stimulate viewers to scrutinize their own priorities and philosophies.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
October Films, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Ste. 3014, NY, NY 10111

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Twice - Exclamatory

Violence: Few times - Moderate and Severe (battleground scene of thousands of dead soldiers; flashbacks during film)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (husband and wife embrace suggestively)

Drugs: Some social drinking

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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