Violette Leduc, born a bastard at the beginning of last century, meets Simone de Beauvoir in the years after the war in St-Germain-des-Prés. Then begins an intense relationship between the ...
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Violette Leduc, born a bastard at the beginning of last century, meets Simone de Beauvoir in the years after the war in St-Germain-des-Prés. Then begins an intense relationship between the two women that will last throughout their lives, a relationship based on the quest for freedom through writing for Violette and conviction for Simone to have in their hands the fate of an extraordinary writer.Written by
A woman author pushing through barriers in 20th Century France, told beautifully
Violette Leduc was a French novelist who approached female sensual and sexual subjects, including lesbian affairs, with fresh and original directness. This is one story of her life. portrayed as largely tormented and often filled with a sense of hopelessness. Her writing and her love life was constantly ravaged.
But this all happens in beautiful France, so the movie is a gorgeous meandering journey through the 20th Century in pastel, gloomy, golden, timeless countryside. And in the end, for those who care about the real woman, she overcomes. Her death to breast cancer (not in the movie) is just the sad inevitable darkness that seemed to follow her even during the brightness of a great and daring mind.
There is no strong narrative propulsion here, for sure. To like this you'll have to enjoy lingering, and sometime in zones of brown melancholy. I did like that, and liked all of the movie, even if I found myself physically restless, too. I can't see how it could have been done differently, but it's good to have poetic patience (or patience for poetry).
The acting, it must be emphasized, is vivid and raw in a modernist way not far from the many bits of text taken from Leduc's writing. Emmanuelle Davos makes no compromise in her showing both the deeply unhappy and the hopeful sides of this woman. And Sandrine Kaberlain is a severe and knowing Simone de Beauvoir, the famous author who comes again and again to Leduc's aid. The implied love affair, fractured and incomplete, between these two is an important if somewhat thinly sketched part of the larger picture for the title character.
This is all moving, great stuff. There is an echo (or a harbinger) of another pair of women drawn with artistry and love in a recent movie, "Reaching for the Moon" (which I liked a lot). But such a different ambiance here, all dank and fearful with shafts of sunlight only sometimes felt. I recommend them both, but this one will require slowing down and appreciating the mood as much as the details of this intense, ordinary biography.
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