Viper in the Fist
(Vipère au Poing)

2004 _ Adaptation of the famous Hervé Bazin novel; the tale of the love-hate relationship between a tyrannical mother and her three children.

A battle-cry of hatred and revolt, ‘Viper in the Fist’ is adapted from one of French literature’s most famous and popular children’s books. The largely autobiographical tale is a tragic-comic, violent, brutal, and yet funny account of a ten-year-old boy waging war on his own mother, set against the backdrop of the twilight of a bourgeois family in the 1920s.

Jean Rezeau and his elder brother live happy lives at Belle-Angerie, the family château. When their grandmother dies, their parents are forced to return from Indochina, spelling the end of their childhood.

The mother, Paule Rezeau, is quite something. She’s no less cruel than the evil step-mothers of fairytales, and her husband dare not question the power she weilds at Belle-Angerie. Chores, harsh punishments, and ridiculous deprivations are the order of the day, ‘for the children’s own good’. Until, that is, the day Jean decides to rebel.

He leads his brothers in an uprising against their tyrannical mother, who doesn’t know how to love them and creates instead an atmosphere of civil war; at once comical and horrific, which even goes as far as half-hearted attempts at murder.

Jean will be nourished by this hatred, as others are by love… But at what price? A coming of age story, an optimistic life lesson, or the victory of a child’s liberty over the woman who, despite all this, made him into an artist and a great writer.

 

Production: Rezo films- Ramona productions- zéphyr films- France 3 Cinéma.
Producteurs : Olga Vincent, Jean-Michel Rey, Philippe Liégeois.
Coproducteurs : Chris Curling and Phil Robertson.
Adaptation et dialogues : Philippe de Broca and Olga Vincent.
Original music : Brian Lock.
First assistant director : Badreddine Mokrani.
Script supervisor: Marie Florence Roncayolo.
Director of photography: Yves Lafaye.
Cameraman: Lorenzo Donati.
Camera assistants: Claude Debroux, Francine Filatrio.
Chief sound operator : Jean-Jacques Ferran.
Assistant : Olivier Varenne.
Chief decorators: Christian Siret, Milly Burns.
On-set props : Guy Vanderplaesten, Jenny Lawrence Smith.
Costumes : Sylvie de Segonzac.
Dresser: Clarisse Fretard.
Directeurs de production : Pierre Vallon, Handy Stebbing.
Studio managers: Andrew Cooke, Pierre Dufour.
Casting : Marie-Christine Lafosse, Sarah Crowe.
Chief maquilleuse : Chantal Leothier.
Chief coiffeur : Patrick Villain.
Chief constructors : John Watt, Cyril Cornillier.
Chief electricians : Jim Howe, Bob Horsefield.
Chief machinistes : Rob Barlow Gilles Springmann.
On-set photographer: Suzy Alnutt.
Chief editor: Anna Ruiz.
Assistant editor: Pascal Latil.
Calibration: Jean Durand.
Chief sound editor: François Fayard.
Mixing: Bernard le Roux.
Post-production director: Eve Albertini.

 

Cast

Madame Rézeau : Catherine Frot.
Monsieur Rézeau : Jacques Villeret.
Jean : Jules Sitruk.
Miss Shelton : Cherie Lunghi.
Fine : Hannah Taylor Gordon.
L’abbé Traquet : Richard Bremmer.
Tante Thérèse : Sabine Haudepin.
Freddy : William Touil.
Marcel : Pierre Stevenin.
Père Volitza : Wojtek Pszoniak.
Grand-mère : Annick Alane.
Père Létendard : Paul Leperson.
Kitty : Alexia Barlier.
Henriette : Amélie Lerma.
Monsieur Pluvignec : Dominique Paturel.
Madame Pluvignec : Macha Béranger.
Maître d’hôtel : André Penvern.
Blaise : Steven Waters.
Concierge : Anna Gaylor.
Docteur Lormier : Étienne Draber.
L’évêque : David Gabison.
La bonne Thérèse : Marie Florence Roncayolo.
Vendeur de marrons : René Morard.
Docteur de Madame Bazin : Pierre Vallon.
Le prêtre de Madame Bazin : Christian Siret.
La jeune servante : Angela Waters.
Jardinier : Martin Sims.
Cuisinier : Dayna Harding.
Chauffeur : Ron Mills.
Musiciens bal nègre : Gérard Rakotoarivony, Louis Laguerre, Freddy Citadelle, Claude Pironneau, Philippe Chagne.
Hervé Bazin : Claude Sitruk.