In the summer of 1942, Paris butcher and caterer Edmond Batignole (Gérard Jugnot) works hard and lives with his henpecking wife Micheline (Alexia Portal), daughter Marguerite (Michele Garcia) and her fiance Pierre-Jean Lamour (Jean-Paul Rouve), who admires the Germans. Batignole inadvertently and unknowingly is partly responsible for the deportation of his Jewish neighbour’s family, but when their young son Simon (Jules Sitruk) escapes and appears at his doorstep, he feels compelled to hide him and help him escape.
 

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A Paris butcher feels compelled to hide his Jewish neighbour’s son from the Nazis.

Paris in the summer of 1942; the German occupying forces have started to round up Jews for eventual deportation. Edmond Batignole, Gerard Jugnot, runs a well-established butchery and catering business, and lives on the premises with his wife, Alexia Portal, their daughter, Marguerite, Michele Garcia, and Marguerite\'s husband-to-be, Pierre-Jean, Jean-Paul Rouve. In the upstairs apartment, a Jewish surgeon, Max Bernstein, Sam Karmann, and his family are about to attempt to flee to Switzerland, but an argument over some stolen produce delays them, they\'re betrayed by the collaborationist Pierre-Jean and arrested. Batignole allows himself to be talked into taking over the Bernstein\'s now vacant apartment, and Pierre-Jean gets him employment catering for German officers. But one of the Bernstein boys, Simon, Jules Sitruk, has managed to escape and comes back to his old home searching for his family. Batignole is forced to hide him. Gerard Jugnot, who directed Monsieur Batignole as well as playing the leading role, is dealing with the still touchy theme of wartime collaboration in France, not that the subject hasn\'t been tackled before: in Claude Berri\'s first feature, The Old Man And The Child, a gentile protected a Jewish boy, and in Joseph Losey\'s Monsieur Klein, Alain Delon played a man mistaken for a Jew. This new film skillfully blends those elements together with suspense, grim humour and a bit of name-dropping; the famous playwright and film-maker Sacha Guitry humiliates the odious Pierre-Jean, a theatre critic and would-be playwright, in one scene, though ironically Guitry himself was charged with collaboration after the liberation, though he was acquitted. Mainly, though, the film is about a man who has always turned a blind eye to the unpleasant things in life when he suddenly discovers what it\'s like to be persecuted - a coward who becomes a hero. The leading performances are excellent, so it\'s a pity that some of the supporting characters are a bit caricatured. Nevertheless, Monsieur Batignole is a touching and gripping film.

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1 hour 40 min

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