Sixteen-year old Junie changes high school mid-year, following the death of her mother. She finds herself in the same class as her cousin Mathias, who introduces her to his friends. All the boys want to date Junie, and she chooses the quietest among them, Otto Cleves. But soon after, she encounters the great love of her life, Nemours, her Italian teacher. The passion that burns between them is, however, doomed. Junie refuses to give in to her feelings and persists in denying herself happiness, which in her eyes is merely illusory.Written by
American Film Market
In the scene in which Junie enters a café and smiles briefly at a woman, the woman she is smiling at is Chiara Mastroianni. Mastroianni played Catherine de Clèves in The Letter (1999), another adaptation of La Princesse de Clèves which The Beautiful Person (2008) was based on. See more »
Written and Performed by Nick Drake
Copyright Warlock Music Ltd administered by Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. See more »
Back on Form
Christopher Honoré's La belle personne is a compelling curiosity; transposing the courtly world of Madame de La Fayette's classic 17th century story, La Princess de Cleves to a modern-day French lyceé (with its own courtyard), the film is a compelling observation of "courtly" love in a postmodern world; although it would be convincing to argue La belle personne is not very modern in its presentation of present-day bourgeoise Parisian etudiants. This is a world that exists in its own hermetically-sealed bubble, free from Facebook and the internet. It's a world where 60s navel-gazing reigns supreme.
The film follows the tribulations love brings, or perhaps more realistically, the tribulations of what one perceives as 'love', even if it's unconsummated. The title alludes to 17-year-old Junie (Léa Seydoux), whose aura and presence recalls a ghostly incarnation of Godard's muse Anna Karina (Perhaps a self-conscious homage to Godard by the FEMIS-teaching Honoré?). Following the death of her mother, Junie refuses to live with her father (for unknown reasons), choosing instead to live with her cousin, Mathias, in a haute-bourgeoisie Parisian arrondisement close to the school she and Mathias attend. ' Soon enough Junie becomes the default objet d'amour for the male etudiants, namely love-sick Otto (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) at first.
However, she soon troubles the cad-in-school Italian teacher, Nemours (the lanky yet ever-foppish Louis Garrel) with her otherworldly presence, prompting him to quickly end two amorous entanglements with a middle-aged fellow teacher and a stubborn 16-year-old female student. However, as one would expect fron the source material, tragedy foreshadows this story but it does not detract from this near-perfect made-for-TV drama.
Every performance is realistic and natural. Special kudos to Garrel and Sedoyx for their work here. Honore follows the mis-step that was Chansons D'amour with this elegant, masterfully composed concoction; even if you could argue La belle personne seems to be an inverse reworking of Chansons. With the ensemble of regulars (Garrel, Hesme, Mastroianni, Leprine-Ringuet etc), traversing both films, La belle personne perversely feels like a sequel somehow taking place in a parallel world to Chansons. In spite of some questionable if strained directorial nods to the Nouvelle Vague (mentioning them would spoil the end), Honoré shows restraint and an uncharacteristic sense of detachment. The way he directs Seydoux is a revelation. Her ghostly presence haunts the film in every aspect and should be noted as a performance of great integrity and resolve from this promising actress. As a modern-day exploration of courtly love, La belle personne, is worth seeing numerous times to catch the many subtleties it withholds on first viewing.
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