Thursday, June 12, 2014

Violette Leduc Bio

Violette (2014) - Provost
Ever since her breakout role as a deaf office worker, Carla, in Jacques Audiard's audacious caper flick Read My Lips, Emmanuelle Devos has risen as one of the top French actresses of our time, working with auteur filmmakers such as Arnaud Desplechin and Alain Resnais and rubbing shoulders with Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardeu. The thing is, I can't think of another actress who made a career out of her frumpiness more successfully than Devos. And she happens to be a favorite of mine.

In Martin Provost's biopic of a post-war French writer Violette Leduc, Devos delivers another gold, again using her arguably unremarkable physical attributes as a weapon.

The film starts with Violette (Devos)'s black market smuggler days during WWII and helplessly in love with a writer/fellow boarder, Maurice Sachs in rural France. Even though Sachs is closet homosexual, lonely Violette doesn't let up throwing herself onto him. As a way of fight off her advances, he suggests her to write.

After getting back to Paris and reading the controversial feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain)'s writings, Violette, forever lonely and emotionally needy, soon gets enamored with the famous writer. de Beauvoir in turn, recognizes Violette's talent and encourages her to write on. With this, their lifelong friendship starts. Violette finds herself in de Beauvoir's circle of famous literary friends (Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus among them). She even finds an admirer of her work and benevolent patron in a sensitive perfume mogul, Jacques Guérin (Olivier Gourmet).

Her first novel, In the Prison of Her Skin, based on her life in an all-girl boarding school, frankly describing her lesbian affair with another student (certain part of the book would later be adapted by a sexploitation maestro Radley Metzger as Therese and Isabelle). Her books, all based on her life stories, salacious and scandalous at the time of the release, gets recognitions later on as a trailblazer in feminist writing. She unlike many other writers, at least gets to taste her success in her lifetime. However alone in her private life, she gets to attain some inner peace that she very much deserves.

Provost (Seraphine), once again demonstrates his penchant for portraying well-rounded woman characters in his films: Violette doesn't come across as just a hysterical, extremely self-conscious woman and de Beauvoir, not as just a cold fish feminist icon. With the help of strong, down to earth performances by Kiberlain and Devos, Violette features great, undeniably human characters. Stately photographed by Yves Cape (Holy Motors, White Material, Humanité), the look of the film, spanning many seasons, is that of subtle elegance and accentuates the superb acting.

Devos is as usual, wonderful. Using her unconventional beauty and charm, she portrays a lonely woman who gets to express her insecurities and desires truthfully in writing, regardless of its consequences. Beautifully acted and executed, Violette is a great biopic that has a real heart.
VIOLETTE is Scheduled to open in NY on Friday, June 13 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Angelika Film Center, followed by a national release.