Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
France, 2013. TS Productions, France 3 Cinéma, Climax Films, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Ile-de-France, Région Limousin, Canal+, France Télévisions, Ciné+, TV5 Monde, Belgacom, Palatine Étoile 10, La Banque Postale Image 6, Procirep, Angoa-Agicoa, MEDIA Programme of the European Union. Screenplay by Martin Provost, Marc Abdelnour, Rene de Ceccatty. Cinematography by Yves Cape. Produced by Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto. Music by Hugues Tabar-Nouval. Production Design by Thierry Francois. Costume Design by Madeline Fontaine. Film Editing by Ludo Troch. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Remarkably good biopic of an almost forgotten author, Violette Leduc. Emmanuelle Devos gives a career-crowning performance as a woman who leaves behind a stale marriage of convenience during the war and makes the acquaintance of Simone De Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain, excellent) with whom she falls madly in love. For decades her affection for the famous author goes unrequited, but the two stay within each other’s orbit as de Beauvoir encourages and later champions Leduc’s writing. Leduc herself is a convoluted state of affairs, a woman both destructive in her self-hatred and insecurity but at the same passionate and fiery in her literary expressions, likely what drew her much more famous friend to her work. Being in any kind of relationship was a different story, and this beautifully solid, masterful film captures it all, from her fumbles in her love life, her love-hate connection to her mother and her own feelings about writing and inspiration. Leduc achieved success late in life compared to her counterpart, her frank and brutal descriptions of Sapphic love having kept her from achieving household name status; at the same time that we learn about her career and personal life, we also observe a fascinating story of friendship and support in which de Beauvoir comes off the stalwart and loyal artist who supports a voice she believes in despite the inconvenience it frequently poses for her. Director Martin Provost lets his film run on longer than might be necessary, some viewers will start to squirm towards the last twenty minutes, but there’s also no superfluous information being presented here, so you’ll just have to put up with it.