Directed by Martin Provost
Starring Emmanuelle Devos, Sandrine Kiberlain, Olivier Gourmet, Frans Boyer and Catherine Hiegel
Born out of wedlock early in the last century, Violette Leduc meets Simone de Beauvoir in postwar Saint-Germain-des-Près. An intense lifelong relationship develops between the two women authors, based on Violette's quest for freedom through writing and on Simone's conviction that she holds in her hands the destiny of an extraordinary writer.
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★★★½ review by teamzizzou on Letterboxd
Interesting film..After a slowish start I really warmed to the film.Great central performance.A sad story of wanting to be wanted, feeling alone and female struggles in a male dominated world.Not essential viewing but I kind of related to Violette.
★★★★ review by Elizabeth on Letterboxd
Emmanuelle Devos gives a stunning performance in this biopic about author Violette Leduc, who was the author of the lesbian book titled, "Therese and Isabelle" a book that was censored for a long time because of the relationship between the two girls.
This film is utterly brilliant in tracing the attraction and feelings that Violette had for another author named Simone de Beauvoir, a give and take friendship that continued to push Violette into the writer she was. Throughout the film we get a sense of the inner torment she faces, the never feeling beautiful enough for anyone.. not even herself. I believe it is Beauvoir who kept her going in these times, although this film is just a fragment of her life it is depicted well and definitely a must see.
★★★★ review by Gui (FKA William Tell) on Letterboxd
Martin Provost’s filmography consists of beautifully nuanced female portraits, from early-20th-century painters to contemporary housewives. With Violette, a biographical account of French author Violette Leduc’s adult life, from her destitute years to later artistic accomplishments, the French filmmaker adds yet another portrait of a strong woman to his repertoire. Haunted by her childhood and complex sexuality, Violette is a distraught woman whose complicated relationships and affairs compel her to write. Writing is seen as a cathartic experience, as freedom for sexuality and brutality and fear, and consequently as the only means of survival.
She is played with fierce complexity and alarming instability by Emmanuelle Devos, who unites all the difficult fragments of this woman into one formidable protagonist. The internal conflict that afflicts Violette becomes increasingly palpable, not just through this performance, but equally because of Provost’s splendid visual strategy: one that makes use of sets, camera angles/movements, light and even costumes and makeup to reveal this open wound and explore both its cuts and its healing. This meticulous direction seems only fair when the subject is as delicate and great as Leduc’s writing, which is itself attentively woven into the narrative.
Overall, Violette is a very powerful film that despite being a 20th-century biopic maintains an incredible actuality and relevance in what concerns gender roles, sexual freedom and the position Art has in both personal and social spectrums.
| Direction: 8,0 | Sound: 8,0
| Screenplay: 8,5 | Editing: 7,0
| Acting: 9,0 | Entertainment: 8,5
| Visuals: 9,0 | Overall Rating: 8,3
★★★★ review by Michael Scott on Letterboxd
They don't make it in often, but this year MQFF plays host to a prestige period drama. A French one. Classy.
Martin Provost's Violette tracks the career of seminal French writer, Violette Leduc, from her scrounging relationship with Maurice Sachs during WWII through to her breakthrough novel 'La Bâtard'. It's a personal journey as much as artistic one, mostly mired in oppressive self-doubt. That's nothing out of the ordinary for writers. What is out of the ordinary is Leduc's circle of lovers, muses, mentors and financial backers: Albert Camus, Jean Genet, Jacques Guérin and, most importantly (historically and dramatically), Simone de Beauvoir.
Emmanuelle Devos gives a bracing performance as Leduc. She imbues the character, who is barely off the screen, will an understated and underexposed ferocity. It's the kind of slow-burn characterisation that mirrors her experience, working in the pockets of France's artistic luminaries but unable to find her place in the sun. Self-pity is not a particularly likeable trait but, here, it is not only understandable, it is forgivable. Leduc's uncomely appearance, her class, her gender, her "aberrant" (and obsessive) sexuality, all work against her in post-war France.
The surrounding cast, headed by Sandrine Kiberlain as de Beauvoir, slip imperceptibly into the immaculately designed, sumptuously shot production. Though the costuming and interior design shift beautifully over the film's two decade timeframe, the relationship between Leduc and de Beauvoir remains constant. Constant and complex.
Leduc's uncomfortably cloying despair and de Beauvoir's unwaveringly pragmatic insistence that she channel her desperation into her writing, anchors Violette and the desire to see their interchanges progress cuts through what could have been a terminably long two and a half hours. Instead, sliced into digestible chapters, Provost's film whips by, satisfies and leaves a wonderful sense of accomplishment by film's end.
★★★½ review by Thomas van Zuijlen on Letterboxd
A meticulously made biography, showing with quite some care the life and the artistic struggle of writer Violette Leduc. Beautiful imagery and sensitive musical themes accompany Emmanuelle Devos's acting - who seemingly starts out emoting as if in a stage play, but gradually gets to show the brilliant and difficult sides of a clearly tormented person while overemphasising neither. Clever, and beautiful, use of contrasting personalities; Simone de Beauvoir provides a wonderfully balanced counterpoint to Leduc's torrent of emotions, and the love/hate relationship between Leduc and her mother is portrayed with much carefulness.
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