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By Jess Fenton
12th April 2013

Based on the classic 1927 novel of the same name, this isn’t the first time ‘Thérèse Desqueyroux’ has been adapted for the silver screen - the first being in 1962 staring recent Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva, in what has been said to be a superior version. The late Claude Miller has helmed this remake, the project being his last, dying shortly after completion, but he can be proud. He created a very beautiful and very rich French film starring starlet Audrey Tautou in a subtle, slow-burning character study on desperation and duty.

Thérèse grows up knowing that, when the time comes, she will marry Bernard, the boy from the neighbourhood, the two familys’ lands will join, and they will enjoy the wealth and power this marriage of convenience brings. Considered to be a girl who “thinks too much” and smokes like a chimney, Thérèse dreams of a life in Paris but settles for the provincial life and the monotony it brings - her only comfort and joy is her younger sister-in-law Anne. After years in this loveless marriage and an unwanted child, feeling trapped and desperate, Thérèse does what any cornered animal does - she turns against her owner. Witnessing her husband become severely ill after accidentally overdosing on medicinal arsenic, she uses Bernard’s hypochondria and forgetfulness against him by forging prescriptions and slowly poisoning him. When she is found out, Bernard banishes Thérèse to a country estate where she slowly wastes away from isolation, guilt and a diet of nothing but cigarettes and wine until Bernard witnesses the effects of his cruel punishment.


This role is perfect for Tautou - what she lacks in physical presence she makes up for in mind, actions and the constant niggling question of “What’s going on behind it all?” - a question that Thérèse herself cannot even answer. This lush French tale of a strong yet oppressed woman is very similar to that of Anna Karenina and Duchess Georgiana, both portrayed stunningly by Keira Knightley. However, unlike Knightley’s women, the striking element here is that Tautou’s Thérèse invokes a shocking lack of empathy, making the story and the character that much more engaging. What drives a person to commit such actions? The ambiguous answer to that question will leave you frustrated for days... in a good way.

RELEASE DATE: 11/04/2013
RUN TIME: 1h 50m
CAST: Audrey Tautou - Thérèse Desqueyroux
Gilles Leilouche - Bernard Desqueyroux
DIRECTOR: Claude Miller
PRODUCER: Yves Marmion
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