Credited as the first feature of the French New Wave, Claude Chabrol's first film as writer/director has little of the controlled tension that defines his best work. This study of a village which witnesses the return of Francois, who left 12 years ago to seek a future in Paris, has Chabrol's customary exploration of the class divisions in French society, with the prodigal son the bourgeoisie, and the villagers the pagan primal proletariat. Francois is determined to "help" his friend Serge and the lifestyle Francois clearly disapproves of. However the idea that these people need help is a sign of superiority and impertinent presumption, signified by Serge's wife's claim that Serge wasn't disatisfied with his life until Francois returned and pointed out that he should be. Chabrol makes Serge's wife pregnant, with her first child born mongoloid and dead, so that the condition of the unborn child symbolises the future, at least as seen through Francois. Chabrol's dialogue has occasional lapses into exposition which betray him as a novice storyteller and odd bursts of melodramatic music, and the only New Wave touch is the use of a torch to light one scene, where it points straight into the camera. Chabrol presents the bleakness of the village with Serge walking drunkenly through the cemetary, a lone dog walking the streets, and a gang of school children travelling to and from their school. His scenes of violence have an immediacy compared to the exchanges between Francois and Serge. and a romance between Francois and Serge's half-sister, and Chabrol provides memorable images - an overlap of Francois' face and falling snow, an ominous slow closing of a door, a long closeup of a woman crying, and cutting from Serge's wife in labour to Francois falling and Serge being dragged along the ground. There is also an interesting dance sequence, which shows the villagers in a more sophisticated environment, and also featuring two women dancing together for one to interpret as you may.