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A young woman who is in love with a married doctor becomes dangerous when her attempts to persuade him to leave his wife are unsuccessful. However, when things are seen from his point of view, the real situation becomes clear.
Samuel Le Bihan,
The year is 1926. In the Landes region, free-spirited Thérèse Larroque, the daughter of a wealthy pinery owner and radical-socialist politician, marries Bernard Desqueyroux, another pinery owner. Although she does it half-heartedly, she thinks that marriage may help her to "sort out all the ideas in her mind". But her disappointment is great. Her wedding night is all but fascinating and when she becomes pregnant she realizes the baby matters more to Bernard than herself. While Thérèse stifles in her husband's beautiful residence among stiff in-laws who do not think high of her, ideas keep on roaming her mind. Written by
Just the right combination of repressed passion and existential angst, in a beautiful setting
This excellent film, like the novel, has a challengingly "modern", existential feel, with themes that bring it closer to the ideas of Camus and Sartre than many of Mauriac's other works.
Thérèse isn't really sure why she acts in the way she does, but her character, thanks largely to Tautou's performance, is so complex and nuanced that, far from leading to "confusion", as another reviewer has suggested, it simply seems real. Perhaps too "real" to be hugely dramatic, but real enough to be compelling and fascinating.
Gilles Lellouche plays husband Bernard to perfection, too, with just the right amount of odious materialism and hypocrisy, combined with a tinge of genuine sympathy. He genuinely can't comprehend his wife and her actions, and responds in the way that he thinks best.
The movie is beautifully and atmospherically shot - the best compliment I can pay is that it looks just how I imagined it when I read the book. Plus it made me want to read the novel again, because it reminded me just how powerful and "modern" a work it is.
Despite the film's length, there are no "longueurs" (boring bits), and the plot feels surprisingly tight given the lack of action.
So watch this film, enjoy the "look", and be surprised and challenged by the characters and their motivations, and by just how modern Mauriac's ideas were, way back in the 1920s. Definitely recommended.
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