An ambitious attempt to film a biography of literature's most celebrated autobiographer, Céleste is based on the published memoirs of Céleste Albaret, housekeeper to Marcel Proust from 1914 until his death in 1922. If the movie is only partially successful in making the Proust story cinematic, it may be because, apart from some bold jump-cuts and fastidious camera-work that parallels the writer's sense of precision, Adlon fails to sustain a visual rhetoric that approximates the Proustian style. And although Céleste (finely portrayed by Eva Mattes, matching a peasant woman's restraint and good humour to the dandy's tyranny and dependency) provides the source material, the film's true subject is inescapably Proust himself - his writing, his illness, his occasional sorties into a moribund artistic demi-monde. Yet the man remains elusive, almost as if he had died with the 19th century, so that all Céleste was nursing was a 'memory' of Proust. It is this 'emptiness' and Céleste's apparent devotion to it that makes the film at best a half-satisfying experience.
Cast and crew