Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. France, 2000. Alicéléo, Canal+, Cofimage 11, RIDICULOUS Pictures, TF1 Films Production. Screenplay by Jacques Fieschi, Bernard Minoret, based on the novel La Terreur dans le Boudoir by Serge Bramly. Cinematography by Benoit Delhomme. Produced by Patrick Godeau. Music by Valerie Lindon. Production Design by Sylvaine Chauvelot. Costume Design by Christian Gasc. Film Editing by Luc Barnier. Toronto International Film Festival 2000.
Daniel Auteuil makes an excellent Marquis de Sade (even better than Geoffrey Rush in Quills) in this intelligent film by one of France’s very best directors, Benoit Jacquot (The School of Flesh, Pas De Scandale). Unlike the aforementioned Philip Kaufman picture, which examined the issue of censorship by using Sade and his work as a backdrop, this film intends to explore the sides of the infamous pornographer as philosopher. While being held prisoner in a grand chateau with many other nobles following the French revolution, Sade befriends a curious young woman and teaches her a thing or two about growing up. The relationship they develop is genuine and in the end very moving, mostly because while instructing her to loosen up she teaches him how he can reclaim his emotional self and learn to love the society that he has dismissed as conventional and narrow. Not Jacquot’s best, but a worthy piece of work.