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Cannes 2012 Review: Thérèse Desqueyroux

There’s no better way to end another Cannes Film Festival than with a classic adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner François Mauriac. Paying tribute to the late Claude Miller’s last film, Thérèse Desqueyroux plays with the idea of a bored French woman who wastes her life toying with family affairs. Audrey Tautou plays the miserable protagonist that has all the elements with a typical classic, a lesbian crush, a selection of lies, isolation, fear, and self-destruction. And a little bit of scandal, of course. But not too much, we’re French.

With the vast selection of dark and dramatic films in competition this year I can understand why Thérèse Desqueyroux would close the festival, but it’s just not something we actively want to watch. I felt like I was in a history class while watching this lengthy flick. This lady doesn’t even know why she did what she did. Thérèse says, “You always know why you do things.” It gets a little difficult to follow her behavior and her gradual self-deterioration happens so slowly you kind of think this is more of a self-growth coming-of-age theme.

This movie is shining a magnifying glass on a specific time in French history that is hard to relate to if you’re not French. It’s one of those movies that only speak to certain people and unfortunately will isolate others, making it an odd selection for a final film. Maybe this is a way of showing how far we’ve grown over the years, as we continue to push boundaries with film, but this particular movie didn’t make any magic. It was stagnant and uninspiring. The characters did not surprise us, there was not enough humor to calm the unhappy course of events, and thus we couldn’t believe anything.

I was expecting something more daring. Revisiting history through cinema opens pandora’s box of exhilarating creative opportunities. It’s too bad Claude Miller didn’t quite get there this time. For a movie this long we don’t get to see Thérèse fall off the wrong side of the road. You just slowly clue in to the fact that she’s ‘not like the rest.‘ We don’t get any further from the obvious.

[star v=3]

Amanda Chen

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