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Review: Traitement de Choc-Shock Treatment (1973)

Directed by: | 91 minutes | , | Actors: , , , , Gabriel Cattand, , , , , , , , Gabriella Cotta Ramusino, ,

In a decadent spa town in a French coastal town, overworked Hélène (Annie Girardot) tries to unwind. At first glance, this seems to work wonderfully quickly. The physician, Dr. Devilers (played by Alain Delon), turns out to be a charming man. So charming, in fact, that the necessary tensions between the two are not lacking. In the meantime, life is taking shape in practice. A naked bathing game in the sea is – excusez le mot – a primitive spectacle. People behave youthfully, sometimes even childlike. The modern society of bustle and tight schedules seems to have disappeared for a while and natural freedom has the upper hand again. After just a few days in the practice, the patients feel completely relaxed and any form of stress has disappeared.

Of course it is all misleading, because how harmless is the practice of Devilers? It is immediately obvious that there is something wrong with the Spanish guys who perform the simple chores in Devilers’ practice. They are looked down on by the rich patients. A clear hierarchical relationship is emerging. If one of the Spanish boys faints, he disappears and is replaced by another one. Not an event to wake up for for the patient. As long as it is operated, there is no problem. It is a clear criticism of a society where the weak are sacrificed to help the strong and the rich. Hypocrisy is a close second, because everyone in practice has butter on their head.

It sometimes looks a bit alienating. The indifferent attitude of the rich patients, the secrets surrounding the practice, its methods and Devilers raise questions. The design contributes to this. The architecture is modern and sleek with an almost annoyingly sterile appearance. Especially in contrast to the natural environment, the sea and the green plains, it all seems a bit unreal and that creates a sometimes oppressive atmosphere. Ultimately, the tension in the has to rely on this atmosphere, because the story is not very spectacular due to its predictability. There is still an exciting final shot, but then it is actually already a bit too late. ‘Traitement de choc’ is certainly not a boring film and the mix between a straightforward thriller and social criticism – although perhaps a little too pretentious – is worked out nicely every now and then. ‘Traitement de choc’ certainly does not succeed on all fronts. But despite the fact that it sometimes leaves a few stitches, it is still an intriguing film. And for the enthusiast, Alain Delon can be seen naked for a while.

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