This film has all the ingredients I like a movie to have. It is a good murder story, in which the crime is related to the characters and behaviour of the protagonists. It is an investigation in human behaviour, in dissapointment, obsession, melancholy and ambition. And it is a well constructed story, told from different angles, in which we see the same events from the perspective of different people. An ambitious film, spanning five main characters, several flashbacks and two continents, but never pretentious.
The murder case concerns an attractive woman, played by the wonderful actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who occupies a country retreat in a thinly populated rural area of France. She is killed because of a misunderstanding: the female lover who stalks her bears a striking resemblance to a girl with whom a local farmer is flirting on an online dating platform. At least, he thinks he is flirting with her. The story is complicated, but that is exactly the beauty of it. Slowly, as the film unfolds, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Right until the very last scene, when even a last unexpected piece is added.
This is a French film, but in my opinion it feels a bit like a British one. Is it because of the desolate, snowy scenery, which reminded me of Scotland? Is it because of the way the story is told, without the overdose of dialogue we know so well from French cinema? Or is it because of the characters, who show nothing of the French joie-de-vivre, but seem reluctant to express their real emotions? One of them is unhappily married and has a steamy rendez-vous with a local farmer, her husband has a secret affair on an online platform, another is married to a man but lets her lesbian passions go free, and a fourth mercilessly kills his only companion, a dog. Not the nicest of people, it seems, but still the viewer understands them and even sympathizes a bit.
'Seuls les bêtes' is not an action packed thriller, but a slow burner which rewards the viewer who can appreciate a well told story.