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A Woman’s Life (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes.

Not for children.

Adapted this from the novel “Une Vie” by Guy de Maupassant, writer (with Florence Vignon)/Director Stéphane Brizé, tells the tale of tortured love embedded in the restraining marriage and family codes in 19th century Normandy. A sheltered youthful aristocrat, Jeanne (Judith Chemla), is subjected to a marriage arranged by her parents to a local young man, Julien de Lamare (Swann Arlaud), who almost immediately shows himself to be not only the Viscount her family expected, but a dishonest, unfaithful creep, lording it over her and abusing both her and her servant and long-time friend, Rosalie (Nina Meurisse), so that her familial house, given to them by her parents, becomes little more than a prison for her.

The film follows her through approximately 30 years of her life. It is appropriately slow with lots of shots of people thinking. Well directed and acted, it is not for everyone. The French know how to make films that show life to be enormously depressing and unrewarding, and this is a classic example. Earlier in May the film was awarded the COLCOA LAFCA Critics Award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Jury at the 21st annual COLCOA French Film Festival. In French.