The Color of Lies

The Color of Lies

DVD cover
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Produced by Marin Karmitz
Screenplay by Claude Chabrol
Odile Barski
Starring Sandrine Bonnaire
Jacques Gamblin
Music by Matthieu Chabrol
Cinematography Eduardo Serra
Edited by Monique Fardoulis
Canal Diffusion
France 2 Cinéma
MK2 Productions
Distributed by MK2 Diffusion
Release dates
  • 13 January 1999 (1999-01-13)
Running time
111 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office $111,143 (USA)

The Color of Lies is a 1999 film co-written and directed by Claude Chabrol. Its title in French is Au cœur du mensonge (literally At the heart of the lie). The film was entered into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.[1]


In a small town in Brittany, a 10-year-old girl is found murdered. The last person to see her alive was her art teacher and professional artist René (Gamblin). He soon becomes the primary suspect in the murder investigation spearheded by the new chief of police Frédérique Lesage (Bruni-Tedeschi), which destroys his life as people in the small town believe that he is the killer although there is no hard evidence. René is completely dedicated to his wife (Bonnaire), a nurse whose perpetual happy mood is the polar opposite of his personality. Meanwhile, Frederique becomes better acquainted with the eccentric residents of the town, including an arrogant television journalist (de Caunes), a small-time crook who fences stolen goods (Marlot), and a bizarre pair of married shopkeepers (Ogier and Simsolo).

Principal cast

Actor Role
Sandrine Bonnaire Vivianne Sterne
Jacques Gamblin René Sterne
Antoine de Caunes Germain-Roland Desmot
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Frédérique Lesage
Bernard Verley Inspecteur Loudun
Bulle Ogier Évelyne Bordier
Pierre Martot Regis Marchal
Adrienne Pauly Anna
Thomas Chabrol The medical examiner

Critical reception

The film received favorable reviews.

Michael Thomson of BBC Films:

Director Claude Chabrol, one of the most successful members of the French New Wave, is still (after a hugely busy career) able to breathe life into suspense with subtlety, irony, and humour... Chabrol, forever asking us to spot detail, ensures that every one counts. A work of superior acting and quiet strength.[2]

Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice:

A superb sociological mystery, The Color of Lies (1999) examines what happens to a small Breton village when a schoolgirl's raped body is discovered in the woods... In his surest Simenonian mode, Chabrol balances the hidden, the exposed, and the philosophical with little fuss, and the characters are all drawn with a scalpel.[3]

Christopher Null of gave the film a good review but had only one issue of contention:

Claude Chabrol's late-career films haven't been entirely inspired, but The Color of Lies is one of the standouts... The sole lacking spot here is the dead fish of a police detective (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), who's ostensibly the hero of the film yet comes off as incompetent and bumbling at best. In fact, better casting all around could have elevated this film to a minor classic.[4]


  1. "Berlinale: 1999 Programme". Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  2. Michael Thomson Updated 16 July 2001 (2001-07-16). "Films - review - The Colour of Lies (Au Coeur du Mensonge)". BBC. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  3. Michael Atkinson (2005-08-02). "Crime Scene Investigations From an Aging New Waver - Page 1 - Screens - New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  4. "The Color of Lies - Movie Review". Retrieved 2011-08-18.
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