Director: Claude Miller Cast: Audrey Tautou, Gilles Lellouche, Anais Demonstier, Catherine Arditi Genre: Drama Country of Origin: France 2012 Language: French with English subtitles 110 mins. Rating:***
'Laughter, joy, a care-free love of life, two friends Therese and Anne enjoying a summer in the Bordeaux region of South West France. Time passes and life changes'.
The free thinking Therese (Audrey Tautou) marries Anne's brother Bernard Desqueyroux (Gilles Lellouche), a dull but wealthy landowner. It's a life of bourgeoise luxury but a marriage of convenience. Nevertheless Therese fulfils her duties as the loving wife whilst Bernard pursues his love of hunting, food and wine and the occasional uneventful bedroom romp. It's suffocating and self-destructive.
The family are scandalised when Anne (Anais Demonstrier) embarks on a passionate affair with Jean Azevedo (Stanley Webber) who's not only Portugese but Jewish and that doesn't fit the bourgeoise life style. Therese sees the power of an all-consuming passionate love and so begins her fateful battle against the powerful and oppressive Desqueyoux family.
This was Claude Miller's last movie and is adapted from Francois Mauriac's 1927 novel of French provincial life. Gerard de Battista's cinematography with opening scenes that have a lush and hypnotic quality and the period feel of 1920's - 30's France make for a visually captivating film.
It could be edited down - it's somewhat stretched in the latter third and the free-thinking, free spirit that is Therese is too opaque. Audrey Tautou gives a powerful performance and the supporting cast are excellent, but there's the nagging feeling that you need to see more shine through before Therese is free to burst onto the Paris scene.
Released by CURZON FILM WORLD