Mauro Bolognini's THE LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS is a French-Italian co-production. It gives us the "true" demystified story of one of French literature's most famous courtesans and who was the basis of many later variations including Verdi's Violetta in LA TRAVIATA and Greta Garbo's Camille. The premise is excellent, by the execution is marred by the presence of Isabelle Huppert in the title role. She seems just too scant and passive to be the self-sacrificing femme-fatale she is supposed to be portraying. And although the settings and decor are nothing short of superb (always dependable in Bolognini's films like THE INHERITANCE and LA GRANDE BOURGEOISE), little is gained by the constant clinical insistence on Alphonsine's genuine sickness (she is constantly coughing up blood for our edification) and by the unconvincing delineation of her relationships with her suitors. The film is very much worth seeing if for no other reason than to compare it with other better versions of the story, perhaps the Zeffirelli film version of the opera, with Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo.
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