For Reel

Bluebeard (2009)
March 26, 2011, 6:35 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat is undoubtedly one of the most heatedly discussed contemporary filmmakers. Many hate her films, and what they often chastise is her supposed misandry (though I would argue that her females are drawn equally poor in their obedience and weak will). It almost seems to be in self-parody, then, to tackle the French folktale “Bluebeard”, which depicts an aristocrat who has the unfortunate habit of murdering his young wives. Despite the potential of the material to rehash Breillat’s familiar ideas, however, she brings a sharp, dry sense of humor to the story and revels in the visceral potential of a fairy tale as much as she does in the sexual politics. The film is not a visual masterpiece by any means – the lousy costumes make much of it look like a Renaissance festival – but there’s an inexplicable charm to the meek production costs. Breillat sets her sense of humor up marvelously with a hilarious opening in which two girls are forced to leave a convent after their supportive father dies (“we are not a charity”, remarks the mother superior). The mannered performances of the two leads – Dominique Thomas as the ogre, newcomer Lola Créton as his young bride – give the film an unusual, dreamlike tone which perhaps mimics the imagination of the two young girls who narrate the film. Look out for an unconvincing “corpse” in the beginning of the picture, whose belly rises and eyes move so explicitly that one has to imagine it was an intentional choice on the part of Breillat.

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