‘Subtle, with distressing hidden emotions’
‘Rich character sketch.’
Une Vie, based on Guy de Maupassant’s debut novel, is set in Normandy during the first half of the nineteenth century and spans some thirty years in the life of Jeanne Le Perthuis des Vauds. Jeanne is initially a open-minded, cheerful young woman full of dreams and with a strong belief in love. She marries Julien Delamare, a local viscount, who soon proves to be a greedy and unfaithful man. Slowly but surely she sees all her dreams go up in smoke and she longs for the lost paradise of her childhood.
Historical dramas about women trapped in a man’s world form a genre of their own, but this film is so wonderful and unique for the extent to which the consequences for the protagonist are so intensely palpable. In various ways director Stéphane Brizé homes in on Jeanne’s emotional life, for example by using superbly timed and finely edited silent flashbacks. Everything is deliberate and hits the mark in this subtle film gem. Une Vie was rightly awarded the Best Film in Competition at last year’s Venice Film Festival.