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Thérèse Desqueyroux

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Appearing as the closing film of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, that first screening of Thérèse Desqueyroux arrived as a bitter sweet experience for film lovers. The film was directed by one of France’s most admired and acclaimed filmmakers, Claude Miller (director of over twenty films including The Best Way to Walk and Un Secret), who had died only one month before that fateful Cannes screening.

This opulent film, which is based on François Mauriac’s famous novel, arrives as Miller’s elegant last film weaving a classical tale of yearning, one which is apparently based on a real life incident. Set in 1926, central character Thérèse, played by Audrey Tautou, the instantly recognisible star of Amelie and a slew of other French cinema releases, is an intelligent young woman married off to the over bearing Bernard Desqueyroux, performed by Gilles Lellouche. Bernard is a chauvinistic decedent of a bourgeois dynasty with a boorish nature.

Not surprisingly when Thérèse’s avant-garde ideas begins to clash with the local conventions, she begins to feel trapped and yearns to break free. She begins to hatch a scheme to win her freedom and independence – but these things, of course, are never simple.

This film is owned by Tautou, with her nuanced portrayal of a lonely and complex woman  her best work since Amelie. Male lead Lellouche is also in fine form as a man who is trying to cope with changes to his traditional world. Beautifully captured on film, with lavish cinematography throughout the Landes area in southwest France, the film is a fitting close out for Miller’s career and a engrossing films for audiences to experience.

Thérèse Desqueyroux opens in limited release April 11.


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