Léa Sedoux follows in the footsteps of Paulette Goddard and Jeanne Moreau as Célestine, a resentful young Parisian chambermaid who finds herself exiled to a position in the provinces where she immediately chafes against the noxious iron rules and pettiness of her high-handed bourgeois mistress (Clotilde Mollet), must rebuff the groping advances of Monsieur (Hervé Pierre), and reckon with her fascination with the earthy, brooding gardener Joseph (Vincent Lindon). Backtracking past the fetishism and peculiarities of Buñuel’s version to Octave Mirbeau’s original 1900 novel, Benoît Jacquot has one eye on 21st-century France: the sense of social stiflement, Célestine’s humiliating submission to Madame’s onerous terms of employment, Joseph’s virulent anti-Semitism. But he keeps his other on the turn-of-the-century setting, when psychoanalysis, a discipline that he holds dear, burst forth: at all times he strikes a balance between appearances and what lies beneath them, between the sadism of the bourgeois employers and their repression, the social codes and the compulsions they conceal. As class-conscious as ever, Jacquot has found some material he can really sink his teeth into. A Cohen Media Group release.

  • Benoît Jacquot
  • 2015
  • France/Belgium
  • French with English subtitles
  • DCP
  • 96 minutes