I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister and My Brother…

I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister and My Brother… ★★★★

What René Allio pulls off here is kind of great. He basically repurposes the true crime story to look at both documentary and murder movies. The cast is divided into professional actors playing the authority figures and non-professional actors from the area playing the peasants. It makes the performances kind of farcical, which in a film about the transformation of society and the re-education of a people, makes it a lot easier to read against the grain of the actual narrative and focus on the discourses that Allio's pitting against each other.

Early on in the film, we see Pierre's parents enter into a marriage of convenience to avoid military enrollment, staging a conflict between traditional values and the Napoleonic Code. For them, liberalization means the freedom to adhere to social structures not defined by them and debt that triggers a cycle of economic hardship. Allio's direction allows us to see Pierre's radicalization and the contradictions in his own attempts to interpret his narrative. Meanwhile the legal system, with the repressive psychiatric establishment acting as a proxy, applies its own distortions to his narrative as it attempts to medicalize his experience and bring it in line with the bourgeois manufacture and treatment of insanity. It's a fascinating watch, and a nice alternative to many slashers' anti-materialist approach to psychology.