Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barbe Bleu (Bluebeard): Catherine Breillat

LFF: Despite its unusually muted, indeed implicit, sexual content, Catherine Breillat's low-budget fairy tale bears the unmistakable stamp of French cinema's leading provocatrice. Set in a bygone France, this elegant Freudian fable begins with two girls, Marie-Catherine (Lola Creton) and reportedly 'bad seed' younger sister Anne (Daphne Baiwir), being sent home from convent school when their father dies. With their family facing poverty, defiant Anne marries a much feared local seigneur, the hefty hirsute Bluebeard (Dominique Thomas) and proves an unflappable match for him. In a present-day parallel strand, the Charles Perrault tale of Bluebeard is read by another pair of siblings, Marie-Anne and Catherine, who give the story their own comic gloss. Using a lively and much younger female cast than usual, Breillat offers a pointed commentary on girlhood, its dreams and rebellious impulses. Mounted with a stylised spareness recalling French medieval dramas by the likes of Jacques Rivette and Walerian Borowczyk, 'Bluebeard' is a sly somewhat bunuelian essay that will appeal not just to Breillat devotees but also to lovers of the dark side of fairy tale - and, incidentally, to readers of Angela Carter who made the Bluebeard story her own in the collection 'The Bloody Chamber'.

MGP: What I noticed most about this film was the beautiful photography and loving attention to detail in a France that appeared to be medieval though the convent school seemed to be intruded from much later. The counterpoint with the two young present-day children was charming and very true with the protective older sister and the younger, more rebellious one.
Rather slow-moving , the climax, when it comes, seems hurried and the modern parallel more than a little shocking. While the sibling relatgionship is a regular Breillat feature, the film was considerably different in tone from her earlier work

1 comment:

pppatty said...

Yes, very pretty, but the fact that it was made for TV is probably what made it different in emphasis from the director's usual films.