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A group of friends meet to hunt boar in the woods. They encounter a young woman and one of them rapes her. The others decide to do whatever it takes to conceal the crime.
There are two hunts going on here. There are the "respectable men" hunting down a defenceless young woman. And then there is director Serge Leroy hunting down the aforementioned respectables to expose the amoral logic and cold-blooded brutality underpinning their social position.
The simple story is told with great skill. The tension builds grimly as each man acquiesces to the crime that's unfolding and we realise there's less and less hope for the unfortunate girl. Along the way, we learn more about the hunters: how one of them accidentally killed before and concealed it to avoid a scandal; how another had to pursue and kill a traitor (a woman) in the Resistance. Another is a politician with much to lose if the woman talks; another is an ex-army captain, trained to kill; another is simply a coward. The girl, meanwhile, remains largely unknown to us, as defenceless and pathetic as the animals they casually slaughter.
There have been innumerable horror films in which faceless psychopaths pursue women to their deaths. What makes "La Traque" all the more unnerving is that the faces of these hunters are all too familiar. They are the faces of politicians, landowners, war heroes, pillars of the Establishment (and Leroy carefully chooses actors who have played such respectable types in other films). Their actions derive not from a loss of control, but from an excess of it: these are men who have learnt to suppress human compassion when necessary to achieve their goals in life. And murder is the logical consequence of that.
Part of the discomfort of watching this film is the sensation of being asked, "Would your friends and neighbours act differently under the same circumstances? Would you?"
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