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Madam de La Pommeraye, a young widow removed from the world, assigns to the court of the marquis des Arcis, licentious notorious. After a few years of a happiness without flaw, she discovers that the Marquis is tired of their union. Madly in Love and terribly injured, she decides to take revenge on him with the complicity of Mademoiselle de Joncquières and its mother.Written by
Hugo Van Herpe
What do we like most about costume films? Certainly the magnificent accoutrements, but also and especially the dialogues chiselled by the language of the eighteenth, the historical context, the fine and elaborate frame as in the novels of the time. Alas, none of that in this movie. Diderot's distant transposition, verbal exchanges are wordy, flat ("A happiness that does not last is pleasure" "Our feelings are as full of tenderness as reason" ...) and also extremely repetitive. The historical setting is reduced to decors set, dresses too neat, and it presents us a simplified libertinism, ignoring its revolutionary dimension of free thought and religious denial, denying even by the extreme prudery of images that libertines are also of the enjoyers. At the supreme moment of a rapprochement of lovers on the couch, the camera wisely turns away on a book that one hand on another! No sensuality in this film starched. As for the plot, it only becomes interesting at the very end, after a boring hour has passed without almost nothing happening.
A TV movie?
But the dullest is in the realization. The image does not translate feelings or situations. Whatever the circumstances, even when they want to be dramatic, the staging is limited to a few paintings: walks in the spring alleyways of the castle, moving flower vases from one fireplace to another, medium shots protagonists filmed in front of a paneled paneling in their sumptuous costume.
Lighting that is invariably too bright does not change when circumstances become dark. Court music, strong and ubiquitous, does not modulate the progressions of the scenario. It's very schooly, almost a TV movie. Under such conditions, how could the game of Cécile de France and Édouard Baer get by: half-smiles equal and agreed, a constant flow and quite left almost from one end to the other of movie. The suffering of Baer is translated just by a neck unhooked and a rebel lock, that of C. de France by nothing.
A strange feminism
And then this anachronism in the underlying allusion to feminism: a question addressed to stick to our time when the era mentioned does not address it yet: Condorcet has not yet spoken. Diderot, in his essay "On Women", describes "the confinement of women in their physical inferiority", and to read many of his quotes it would be taxed today misogynist pride (Ex: "It is also ridiculous to a man to believe faithful women that their being faithful "). What strange feminism is it in the film itself, since the outcome shows us a man certainly libertine and unfaithful but who proves courageous and sensitive, facing a woman that was thought to be honest but whose fragility finally makes it the worst of the vipers?
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