Claude Chabrol, one of the key exponents of the French New Wave and a master of his trade, falls well below par in his 1974 effort, Nada, a tame political farce that fails to ignite.

A small band of revolutionary throwbacks from the Sixties plan to kidnap the US Ambassador to France, Richard Poindexter (Lyle Joyce). Headed by the tall, bearded renegade, Buenaventura Diaz (Fabio Testi), in company with André Épaulard (Maurice Garrel), they plan their mode of attack in between afternoon Sancerres and Marxist chitchat. Slowly tracking down their target to a high-class brothel, they charm their way into Madame Gabrielle's (Viviane Romance) premises, before nabbing the ambassador. Bundling him into their motor, they drive south to a hideout, a dilapidated country house, where they rendezvous with Veronique (Mariangela Melato), Épaulard's soon-to-be piece on the side, and the remainder of their comrades in arms.

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Very little else happens, other than the police and security forces do their average best to secure the safety of Poindexter and take down the assassins one by one. At times, the action is farcical, bordering on the cartoon, with one of the assassins deliberately caricatured as an inept buffoon. Still it's not a comedy and instead pays lip service to Chabrol's political leanings and long-term ambivalence towards French authority. The police are portrayed as inept as well as murderous. Devoid of any real tension until the end, Chabrol could have added sub-plots and the odd twist here and there to jazz up a tired and jaded narrative.

Very few of the characters develop gravitas, something uncharacteristic of Chabrol. Diaz, deliberately understated as the dark and mysterious danger man, works well, however, and besides a climactic shoot out and a hard line approach is one of the few redeeming features.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2005
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A group of French anarchists kidnap the American ambassador to France.
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Director: Claude Chabrol

Writer: Claude Chabrol, Antonietta Malzieri

Starring: Fabio Testi, Mariangela Melato, Maurice Garrel, Viviane Romance, Lyle Joyce, Lou Castel, Michel Aumont, Michel Duchaussoy

Year: 1974

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France, Italy


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