Violette Leduc transformed herself from a black market trafficker into France’s most scandalous post-WWII author, known for proto-feminist novels such as ‘Ravages’ (1955) and ‘The Bastard’ (1964). Her journey wasn’t easy, and this portrait starring Emmanuelle Devos as Violette spends much of its time in its subject’s ‘rat hole’ of a Paris apartment, where inspiration strikes as often as the furnace breaks down. It’s lonely work.
Director Martin Provost does a good job recreating the graft of writing, and he elicits superb internal pain from Devos. The film also handles with sensitivity Violette’s frustrated lust for her mentor and fellow writer Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain), along with a hefty dose of self-hatred and mommy issues. It’s a movie about coming to peace with solitude, and stands leagues above most biopics.