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French screenwriter and director Alice Winocour's feature film debut which she wrote, is inspired by medical records regarding a French 19th century neurologist, who bestowed the eponym for Tourette Syndrome on behalf of his student named Georges Gilles de la Tourette, and his relationship with a patient. It premiered in the International Critics' Week Special Screenings section at the 65th Cannes International Film Festival in 2012, was screened in the Discovery section at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, was shot on location in France and is a French production which was produced by producers Emilie Tisne and Isabelle Madeleine. It tells the story about a woman named Augustine whom after having a severe seizure in the house where she and her cousin named Rosalie is working, is sent to the Hospital De La Salpêtrière in Paris, France and told that she will have to stay there. At the same time, a professor at the hospital is studying a disease called hysteria.
Distinctly and subtly directed by French filmmaker Alice Winocour, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated mostly from the two main characters' viewpoints, draws a refined and increasingly intriguing portrayal of a young woman whom after experiencing another one of her strange seizures at a modernized psychiatric hospital catches the attention of a prominent French neuroscientist who lives with his wife named Constance and their pet named Zibidie and who immediately begins examining her. While notable for its distinct and atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling cinematography by cinematographer Georges Lechaptois, production design by production designer Arnaud De Moleron, costume design by costume designer Pascaline Chavanne and use of colors and light, this narrative-driven story about coming-of-age, how hysteria was perceived in France at that time and particularly how this affected women who were those most likely to be suspected of having and being diagnosed with this mental illness, depicts two dense studies of character and contains a great and timely score by English composer Jocelyn Pook.
This historic, austere, modestly erotic and consistently involving period drama and chamber piece which is set during a winter at an institution for women with variegated mental conditions in the capital city of France in the late 19th century and where a nineteen-year-old French kitchen maid whom is praying to be cured becomes infatuated with the person she believes can cure her and a middle-aged man named Jean- Martin Charcot whom is looking for funding from an academy finds a rare patient who might convince them to support him with his studies, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, subtle character development and continuity, poignant instrumental tones, scenes between Jean-Martin and Augustine and the reverent acting performances by French actor Vincent Lindon and French actress and musician Soko. An eloquently atmospheric, distinctly cinematographic and brilliantly romantic mystery and a whole-heartedly executed directorial debut.
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