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14 Jan 2:00am

A Woman’s Life review – gorgeous, compelling period drama

The Guardian
This atmospheric film adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel explores the bleak lot of an heiress in 19th-century France Based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant and sharing themes (male treachery, suffering) as well as a title with Mikio Naruse’s 1963 drama, Stéphane Brizé’s gorgeous period piece explores the bleak lot of an aristocratic heiress in 19th-century France. Shot in boxy 1.33:1 ratio, and kissed by flickering candlelight, this a world so persuasively realised that you can almost smell the damp that rises, along with the debt. We follow Jeanne (Judith Chemla) from the clear-eyed hopefulness of youth to late middle age; it’s a performance that is so compelling that we forgive the film its fairly dispiriting trajectory and portrayal of a woman who often seems little more than a helpless chattel.
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