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Scene of the Crime (1986)

Le lieu du crime (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | May 1987 (USA)
2:35 | Trailer

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In the woods, a 13-year-old boy is grabbed by an escaped convict and told to bring money later that day. The boy does as he's told, only to be attacked by the convict's partner. A murder ... See full summary »


André Téchiné
3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Catherine Deneuve ... Lili Ravenel
Danielle Darrieux ... La grand-mère
Wadeck Stanczak ... Martin
Nicolas Giraudi Nicolas Giraudi ... Thomas
Jean-Claude Adelin Jean-Claude Adelin ... Luc
Jean Bousquet ... Le grand-père
Michel Grimaud Michel Grimaud ... Roger, le serveur
Philippe Landoulsi Philippe Landoulsi ... L'inspecteur
Claire Nebout Claire Nebout ... Alice
Jacques Nolot ... Le Père Sorbier
Victor Lanoux ... Maurice


In the woods, a 13-year-old boy is grabbed by an escaped convict and told to bring money later that day. The boy does as he's told, only to be attacked by the convict's partner. A murder ensues, and through happenstance, the murderer and the boy's mother form an alliance. All this takes place in four days during which the boy has his first communion, his separated parents face each other amidst grandmother's hopes they'll reunite, the grandfather just wants to go fishing, the school's chaplain complains about the boy's behavior, and the convicts' shared girlfriend comes, gun in hand, to help them escape to Tangier. The mother's surprising decisions complete the story. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

May 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scene of the Crime See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

T. Films, Films A2 See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film underwent an HD restoration in 2018 by Eclair, with the support of Arte France's cinema unit and MK2 Films. See more »


When Thomas first tries on his suit that "itches", his top shirt button is undone. But when he undresses in his room shortly after that, he undoes that button too. See more »

Alternate Versions

Video version runs 74 minutes. See more »


Featured in Danielle Darrieux: Il est poli d'être gai! (2019) See more »


La voix du printemps (Frühlingsstimmen)
Music by Johann Strauss
Performed by Tiroler Symphonie Orchester Innsbruck (as Orchestre Symphonique d'Innsbruck)
Conducted by Robert Wagner (as Richard Wagner)
See more »

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User Reviews

Lacks focus, but interesting
14 May 2002 | by DeeNine-2See all my reviews

The title is a bit misleading since Le lieu du crime is not a noir thriller or a mystery. It is a relationships movie with psychological undertones. Director André Téchiné is especially drawn to the exploration of family affairs featuring naturalistic depictions of human sexuality. For example see Ma Saison Préférée (1993), also starring Catherine Deneuve, in which the central tension, maintained for decades, is that of a brother's unrequited desire for his older sister. Téchiné is very good at exploring taboo situations without leaving us with a sense of the perverse, and he is able to hint at a deeper, non-expressed sexuality behind ordinary life.

Here Catherine Deneuve stars as Lili Ravenel, who has a 13-year-old son, Thomas (Nicolas Giraudi), who is not doing well at school, a father who no longer cares about people at all, including members of his own family, and a mother who is emotionally close and distant by turns. Lili is estranged from her husband, a man she no longer loves, if ever she did. She is a woman of a certain age who finds diversion in managing a night club. Thus we have the familiar psychology of the bored middle class woman who, we know, will be drawn irresistibly to the excitement of an outsider. Directors who find themselves in the enviable position of directing the beautiful, cool and stately Deneuve seem themselves irresistibly drawn to showing her in compromised situations. I'm thinking of Belle de Jour (1967) and Mississippi Mermaid (1969), directed respectively by Luis Buñuel and Francois Truffaut. In the former Deneuve is a day-tripping prostitute and in the latter she is a criminal on the run. For some odd reason there is something deeply moving about seeing Deneuve give into her baser nature. (I think.)

Anyway, here she does indeed give herself to the rough young man who has killed his companion, and she does so without a hint of regret or lingering doubt. Incidentally in Téchiné's Ma Saison Préférée, mentioned above, there is a scene in which a young intern has his way with Deneuve using much the same approach that Wadeck Stanczack, who plays Martin, an escaped con, employs here. That Lili's sexuality is aroused by his crude demand is the psychology that Téchiné wants to concentrate on; but because one of the weaknesses of his movie is a lack of focus, the impact of her desire is not as strongly felt as it might be. For a most striking and stunning exploration of this theme see Vittoria De Sica's unforgettable The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1971).

Another weakness of this movie is some unconvincing action and dialogue in places. The opening scene in which Thomas is threatened by Martin who demands money to help him escape is a case in point. Martin's threats seem mild and ineffective. One wonders why Thomas is compelled to return. I also wonder about the boy's response to seeing his mother in bed with Martin. His first reaction is to say, "He will kill you!" and then later he asks his father, "Is that love?", which doesn't seem like something a 13-year-old would say. A six-year-old, maybe. Also a puzzle is why Claire Nebout, who is interesting as Alice, the girl involved with the two escapees, stops her car in the rain to pick up Thomas only to throw him out a few minutes later. Why did she stop at all? As the scene was shot he seemed to be in the middle of the road, so she couldn't avoid him, but considering that it was dark and it was raining, I don't think that would happen. At any rate, the purpose of the scene is to show that Thomas, like his mother, is starved for excitement, begging Alice to take him with her.

My favorite Téchiné movie is Rendez-Vous (1985) starring a very young and vital Juilette Binoche, who is clearly adored by the director. It is, like this movie, uneven in places, but Binoche is incredibly sexy and captivating. If you are a Binoche fan, see it. You will experience a side of her not shown in her American movies.

By the way, when this was filmed Deneuve was about 43-years-old and had already appeared in at least 67 films. She is the kind of woman who grows more beautiful as she grows older. I found her much more attractive here than when I first saw her in the celebrated The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), released when she was 21.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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