In a provincial French village, beautiful schoolteacher Helene (Audran) is befriended by the local butcher, Paul (Yanne), a war veteran haunted by his experiences on the front. Helene is lonely and enjoys Paul's company, but remains at a distance romantically. Meanwhile, a serial killer who preys on young girls is loose in the area. Could Paul be hiding something?
Dedicated to the residents of the small Périgord town where it was filmed, Chabrol's "Le Boucher" concerns the initially cordial, then intimate bond that develops between two people, each of whom is emotionally traumatized by the past. As with his idol Hitchcock, Chabrol masterfully builds suspense around the question of character — is Paul a sexually frustrated killer? — with an ingenious plot twist involving a cigarette lighter. Dark and psychologically puzzling, "Le Boucher" is one of Chabrol's most intriguing murder-mysteries.