Some Like It Rare

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Some Like It Rare
"Foïs is perfectly cast in the sort of villain role that’s rare these days, clearly relishing the viciousness of it." | Photo: courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

The story of butchers serving up human flesh which tastes to good that nobody can resist it goes back at least four centuries. It reached its peak in the UK in 1846 when penny dreadfuls circulated the legend of Sweeney Todd, but in France most people think first of a story about St Nicholas, who is said to have saved the souls of some unfortunate children done away with in that fashion. Although films on the subject are commonplace, France hasn’t produced one since 1990’s Delicatessen, and whilst this doesn’t come close to the magic of Jeunet et Caro, it’s a little classier than what most cannibal films fans will be used to – even if its characters are not.

Vincent (Fabrice Eboué) is the butcher at the centre of this story: a friendly, unassuming guy who is just trying to make his way in life and gradually running his butcher’s shop into the ground. It’s not classy enough to attract an elite clientele, and it can’t compete on price with the big supermarkets. As a result, his confidence is depleted, he’s exhausted all the time and, as his wife reminds him at every opportunity, he can’t get an erection any more.

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She is Sophie (Marina Foïs), and she’s the real driving force behind all the action in the film. When we meet her, she’s despondent, whiling away her days watching true crime exposés on TV. An attack on the shop by vegan activists, who cover her in red paint before beating and kicking Vincent, is the last straw. She wants out of this situation, and announces that she’s going to leave him. But then something changes. She and Vincent accidentally knock down one of their assailants on a lonely country road. It’s an accident, but who will believe them? Not knowing what else to do, Vincent butchers the body, and from there we go through the motions as usual.

Two things make this version of the tale distinctive. The first is that the meat everybody loves comes from a vegan, and it emerges that only vegans taste that good. The second is Sophie. The enthusiasm with which she sets out to become a serial murder of vegans, and the lengths to which she is prepared to go, add a new dimension to the film. No longer focused solely on the corruption of individuals, it becomes about a loving husband’s discovery that his wife is a straight out psychopath. Whilst he initially goes along with her plans – or at least tries to – in order to please her, his love gradually gives way to fear as he realises that there is nothing he can do to assert himself effectively against her.

Foïs is perfectly cast in the sort of villain role that’s rare these days, clearly relishing the viciousness of it even as she fleshes out her character and gives her depth, letting us see her conflicting feelings about Vincent. Some viewers might be tempted to cheer for this middle-aged woman on a voyage of self-discovery, but sooner or later, most will recoil from that. Though she pressures Vincent into doing the dirty deeds, questioning his masculinity when he hesitates, it’s soon clear that the need to save the business is only part of her motivation, and that really she’s just doing this because she enjoys it. Meanwhile, the film takes satirical jabs, some more successful than others, at polite society.

In the end there's not really enough here to make a meal of, but Some Like It Rare is an enjoyable bit of light entertainment with a spicy aftertaste.



Signature Entertainment present Some Like It Rare on Digital Platforms from 21 March

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2022
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Some Like It Rare packshot
Sophie and Vincent Pascal have run the family butcher shop for a decade, but business is bad. So grim it’s on the brink of bankruptcy and so is their marriage. But then Vincent kills a vegan activist who had vandalised their shop. When he butchers the body and his wife accidentally sells it, customers can’t stop lining up for the tender cuts.
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Director: Fabrice Eboué

Writer: Fabrice Eboué, Vincent Solignac

Starring: Fabrice Eboué, Marina Foïs, Jean-François Cayrey

Year: 2021

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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