(Review originally written at 11 September 2006)

This is a rather unusual but successful take on the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, that was first published in 1886.

In this French take on the story the story and settings are changed to the more 'modern' France of the '50's. But don't worry, they didn't changed the main character much, only his name. As a matter of fact Opal is perhaps far more brutal and a bad guy than his predecessors from earlier Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movies.

The movie is more of a thriller and mystery movie than an horror. In that regard "Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier" already works as a surprising and effective movie. It provides the movie with some nice twists (especially obviously when you aren't yet familiar with the story of Jekyll & Hyde) and original moments. Yet the movie never truly manges to captivate the viewer with its story. It's too lacking in suspense for that.

Still "Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier" remains a far better than average movie. This is mainly due to its fine visual style which suits the movie well and the professional directing from acclaimed French movie-maker Jean Renoir.

Jean-Louis Barrault gives a fine performance as Dr. Cordelier/Opale, although he plays Opale a bit too much like a drunk. It doesn't however makes his performance any less powerful- or believable. Most of the other actors also give a fine performance, although however some of them are really below par.

Still all in all "Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier" remains a good and surprising enough movie to satisfy its viewers. Far from the best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie but a more than good and above all, original attempt, from Jean Renoir, nevertheless.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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