Unable to forget her first love, Félicité, a simple and kind maid, devotes herself completely to her new master, Mathilde Aubain. As the passing of time doesn't heal her wounds, she gives ... See full summary »
Unable to forget her first love, Félicité, a simple and kind maid, devotes herself completely to her new master, Mathilde Aubain. As the passing of time doesn't heal her wounds, she gives love to all those who surround her: Mathilde's children, her nephew Victor. But fate seems to always deny her from any love in return. Still she tries to find someone who'll accept her unconditional love. Written by
For her first feature film Marion Laine did not choose the easy way out. She dared adapt a classic French writer (Gustave Flaubert, famous all over the world for "Madame Bovary"), she did not shy away from making a period piece (although things are made easier by the fact that the scene is set in the country). And she gave her two main actresses (Sandrine Bonnaire as the kind-hearted naive heroine and Marina Foïs as her emotionally repressed employer) a memorable role.
Her main quality, however, and what makes this adaptation a success, is her refusal of sentimentality. Although Félicité goes through misfortune after misfortune, "Un Coeur simple" has nothing of a tear jerker. Marion Laine's touch is sharp, her vision of the rural reality in nineteenth century Normandy naturalistic and documentary-like and her sympathy for Félicité restrained. Which does not mean that this is a cold movie. On the contrary, the unfairness of Félicité's lot is so obvious that it needn't be intensified. Pathetic violins and sniveling would be redundant whereas soberness, by contrast, does reinforce the impact of Flaubert's sad story.
Sandrine Bonnaire is literally possessed with her role, a simple woman gifted for life, but prevented by unfavorable circumstances to give free rein to her bursts of passion or tenderness. Marina Foïs, her exact opposite, as repressed in this context as she is naturally exuberant, is frightening as Madame Aubain, who misses out on real life.
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