Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/Italy, 2007. Flach Film, CB Films, France 3 Cinéma, StudioCanal, Buskin Film, Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, TPS Star, Région Ile-de-France. Screenplay by Catherine Breillat, based on the novel by Jules-Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly. Cinematography by Giorgos Arvanitis. Produced by Jean-François Lepetit. Production Design by François-Renaud Labarthe. Costume Design by Anaïs Romand. Film Editing by Pascale Chavance. Cannes Film Festival 2007. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
Catherine Breillat lightens up on her hypersexual style and puts her force behind story and character in this sumptuous adaptation of the novel by Jules-Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly. Announcing itself as set in the era of Choderlos de Laclos (author of Dangerous Liaisons), the film tells a similar tale of sexual manipulation and passion as a handsome, rakish man (Fu’ad Aït Aattou) prepares to marry a gorgeous young woman (Roxane Mesquida) after years of living with a fiery, complicated Spanish mistress (Asia Argento). The bride-to-be’s grandmother (a superb Claude Sarraute) is not convinced that he is ready to commit, and one evening gets him to tell her the entire tale of his stormy, ill-fated love affair with Argento. Gorgeous costumes and beautifully lit drawing rooms pour off the screen as Breillat avoids the graphic sexuality of earlier films like Romance or Fat Girl and instead manages to capture some lovely intimacy and terrific erotic tension between the actors.