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The upper-class owner of a gallery, Catherine Lelievre, hires the efficient and quiet maid Sophie to work in the family manor in the French countryside. Her husband Georges Lelievre, who is an opera lover, her daughter Melinda and her teenage son Gilles welcome Sophie and appreciate her work. Sophie soon befriends the postmistress Jeanne, who is a bad egg and encourages Sophie to rebel against her employers, but the maid stays submissive. However, Sophie is ashamed of a secret and feels uncomfortable in many situations, finding a way to hide her secret. When Georges tells Sophie that he does not want Jeanne in his house, Sophie stands up to him. Melinda discovers her secret and Sophie blackmails her, but Melinda tells her parents what happened. Georges fires Sophie and she returns to the house later with Jeanne on the rampage. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I love Sandrine Bonnaire. Not love her in the "sell my possessions and move to Paris" love her, but love her in movies. In this movie especially. Every second she is on the screen, I was riveted to her. Her somewhat jerky and stiff physical mannerisms, her plain but beautiful face. And even though from the start we sense that her character is odd, creepy even, we can also feel her almost childlike panic and pain early on when we learn she can't read. It's enormously moving, and it creates a sympathetic bond with her that complicates how we view the events that follow. I just love her, and that probably clouded my overall estimation of the film. That's not to say the film is otherwise weak. It's not. The exploration into the class conflict between the rich and their help was excellent. And so was the portrayal of the sociopathic personality, shifting from sweet smiles to cold-bloodedness in a process devoid of emotion. Chilling, especially so when the sociopath is a waifish beauty. It's a very good movie made great by Sandrine Bonnaire's performance.
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