Diary of a
by Tony Medley
Runtime 95 minutes
Not for children
Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel has already been made into two
classic films, one by Jean Renoir in 1946 starring Paulette Goddard as
Céléstine, and another by Luis Buñuel in 1964 starring Jeanne Moreau
playing the same character. All are different, but this one, starring
Léa Seydoux in the titular role, is probably the best. Directed by
Benoit Jacquot from a script by Hélène Zimmer (with another credit
going to Jacquot), this captures the difficult world and cast of
distasteful characters in which the lovely Céléstine finds herself
Her employer, Mrs. Lanlaire (Clotilde Mollet) is totally
unsympathetic, as are just about all the other characters with whom she
is thrown. But one, Georges (Vincent Lacoste) is an extremely complex
man. Is he a monster or is he not?
Jacquot expertly combines the mores of the 1900 novel and the
mid-20th Century films with today’s world and the result is a
thought-provoking film that leaves the viewer contemplating what they
have just seen.
Poor Céléstine finds herself alone in a cruel, selfish world and
she has to fend for herself without surrendering her dignity as a woman.
Seydoux gives an outstanding, sympathetic performance. This is a
brilliant film, one that held my interest throughout. In French.