Transforming from a black-market trafficker into France’s boldest post-WWII author, Violette Leduc created protofeminist scandals with her novels, particularly Ravages (1955) and The Bastard (1964). The path was hard for her; Violette spends much of its time in its subject’s sad “rat hole” of a Paris apartment, where inspiration strikes as often as the furnace breaks down. It’s lonely work.
Director Martin Provost does well by the real labor of writing, eliciting superb internal pain from Emmanuelle Devos. Also given sensitive expression is frustrated lust (Sandrine Kiberlain plays frosty Simone de Beauvoir, mentor and love object), along with a hefty dose of self-hatred and mommy issues. It’s a movie about coming to peace with solitude, leagues beyond most biopics.
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