This 35mm presentation will also be screened on July 13th and 30th (details here).
This erotically charged and austere study of criminology is written by star Jeanne Moreau’s regular collaborator Marguerite Duras, from an original screenplay by Jean Genet. Moreau plays a repressed school teacher unleashing her frustrations upon her fellow villagers in rural France. By prioritising natural sounds over incidental music, director Tony Richardson builds an odd, hyper-real atmosphere, against which Moreau gives one of her most intense performances.
Harvard Film Archive review:
Tony Richardson’s deliciously wicked film – with a script begun by Jean Genet but completed by the director when the playwright disappeared after only a week – stars Jeanne Moreau as the ostensibly prim schoolmistress of a small French village. Beneath Mademoiselle’s breast, however, bubbles a hotbed of repressed passion, which she releases in random acts of secret and rather symbolic violence around the village: opening the floodgates to drown the farm animals, setting barns and homes aflame. The villagers pin the crimes on a sexy, newly arrived Italian lumberjack; Mademoiselle pins her hopes on seducing him. Richardson’s sumptuous mise-en-scène, marked here by his exclusive use of stationary camera compositions, creates narrative tableaux of classic proportions and an ample canvas for Moreau to paint her luscious performance on.
Here (and above) is an extract.