"The Thrill Seeker" is a superbly involving, funny, and touching character drama about Andre (Jean-Pierre Bisson), an impotent and fairly dull proofreader who vents his frustrations by visiting various women and conning them into believing he's various, outrageous characters. Unlike other con men, however, he's not out for money or sex but rather the thrill of becoming someone else if only for an hour or so.
The story's goofy premise is wonderfully executed by directors Roger Andrieux and Mai Zetterling who manage to give even the most comedic scene a sense of wistful tragedy. Consequently, "The Thrill Seeker", though often over-the-top, never tips over into comedy but rather executes almost flawlessly a dangerous balancing act walking between the absurdist humour of "The Cat Brought It In" and "Puzzle" and the kind of genuine, human drama only someone who truly understands humanity, like Patricia Highsmith does, could write.
On top of all that, this episode boasts a bravura performance from Jean-Pierre Bisson, a regrettably underrated character actor, so memorable in 1987's "Death on a Rainy Sunday". He manages to inject a tangible feeling of sadness into every one of Andre's actions. In lesser hands, Andre could have become an unbelievable caricature like the characters in "The Cat Brought It In", but Bisson makes him so real and relatable, the episode becomes, at times, difficult to watch. Brightening up the proceedings are Charlotte de Turckheim as a ditzy starlet who's recently discovered Buddhism and Katrine Boorman as a tough war reporter who's not quite sold on Andre's act. Finally, also excellent are Lucie Airs as Andre's loving daughter who shares the best scene in the episode with Bisson and Marisa Berenson in a brief but memorable appearance as one of Andre's victims.
"The Thrill Seeker" is a subtle, well-balanced, and sharp episode and simply the best "Chillers" has to offer. It is also doubtlessly (with "The Cat Brought It In") the finest Highsmith adaptation of the lot managing to transport all of the intentions and finesse of the short story onto the small screen.
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