Film, Drama
If movies like ‘Sin City’ and ‘Kick-Ass’ endeavour to emulate the frame-by-frame visual immediacy of your average comic book, French provocatrice Catherine Breillat attempts a similar trick with ‘Bluebeard’ but instead uses the ornate illustrations found in any leather-jacketed, golden-clasped storybook as her model. And in selecting Charles Perrault’s bite-sized folk tale of a homicidal old hermit and his cowering younger bride as her source material, Breillat has produced her funniest and most immediately pleasurable film to date.

We’re initially introduced to two cheery pre-teen sisters as they read aloud this romantic account of murderous lust from the confines of a cluttered attic. This framing device hints that what we’re about to see is based on memories from Breillat’s own childhood and it’s a version of ‘Bluebeard’ into which she clearly channels her personal concerns, making her own tiny but significant stresses.

The strange sequence of events that leads recently destitute Marie-Catherine (Lola Creton) to accept the repugnant Bluebeard’s (Dominique Thomas) hand in marriage plays out in a series of gracefully shot and paced tableaux which come to life through a pair of wonderfully sad-eyed and mysterious performances from the leads. Toning down the aggressive sexuality of such previous features as ‘Romance’ and ‘A Ma Soeur!’, Breillat’s film is no less barbed in its insights on the physical torments of love and the strains of sibling disunity. Her spare but lively re-creation of medieval France does not draw undue attention to itself (think Rohmer’s ‘Perceval le Gallois’ without the plastic trees), and her droll critique of the scourge of patriarchy is refreshingly modern.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Release date: Friday July 16 2010
Duration: 80 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Catherine Breillat
Screenwriter: Catherine Breillat
Cast: Dominique Thomas
Lola Creton
Daphné Baiwir
1 person listening

Made with friends over a weekend. It aspires to be a kind of post-cinema - we all know we are just actors dressing up so let us not even pretend otherwise (very funny anachronistic clothing and household items). And it would work if it was done consistently but it isn't. And the director has so little to say that we have long interminable 'filler' scenes in which nothing is added to the story. To add to the yawn effect we are treated to the wellknown Freudian interpretation of the Bluebeard story. This film has nothing new to say. However, on the plus side is a five-year old girl who out-acts everybody else in the film by miles. That girl is a true star in the making!

I saw this last weekend and enjoyed it. It seemed to me to be plainly but clearly and well-told. The medieval Bluebeard story - which I didn't know - is periodically intercut with two children in 20th centruy dress, the younger reading the story to the elder. There must have been purposes for the makers in this but I didn't understand what they might be. A strange, still film. I may have to see it again.

This film provoked the very rare response in me which was to walk out two thirds of the way through it. Mike Carter accurately describes it as dull. Dull and detached I could live with but this film was made on a shoe string and it showed, Nothing worse than a period piece that looks as though the actors' mothers made the costumes and donated the props. The child actors are charmless which is problematic when the entire plot hangs on their ability to charm. Dreadful..

Sadly this review doesn't capture the utterly charmless and dull experience of watrching this faux medieval amateurish fancy dress party of a fairy tale film. Droll? Only if you believe that people running up and down spiral staircases multiple times is inherently amusing. French film makers seem to able to bully reviewers with their studied pretention. Guys! Honestly, it's just not very good and incredibly uninvolving (dull) for normal, human audiences.