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This French film begins in 1926 and follows the life of Therese Desqueyroux, or just Therese D (as the character points out, many people cannot pronounce the surname).
Therese thinks a lot about things, her imagination is active and her ideas are radical in this Landes region and time.
As the daughter of a wealthy pinery owner and politician, she has the opportunity to marry Bernard Desqueyroux, also a pinery owner who owns the adjacent property. Therese feels she must conform to expectations and tradition. The added benefit of marriage, as she sees it, is to distract her from the unusual thoughts she has and to settle down.
It's not a happy movie. Therese seems cold and distant. The people around her don't 'get' her nor do they try. They are frustrated by her aloofness. We get glimpses into her thoughts of self harm and suicide but also her dreams for a more exciting life. She is alone in her thinking and internal battles. Bernard just tolerates his wife's strong character and ideas.
But it is a beautiful movie for the settings and scenery. The houses are beautifully decorated and seemed authentic to the time with mosaic tiles, thick wooden panels and staircases and luxurious decor, even the wallpapers. The rich colours and photography allows you romanticise about that time and place and is in contrast to the grey world of Therese.
Therese is not caught up in the romance. Following her pregnancy, she feels even more depressed and stifled. She feels the interest of her husband and family is only towards her child and she is worthless, like a vessel.
Overall I enjoyed the film. Although I did find it in parts a little slow, but perhaps the director was aiming to emanate the boredom felt by the main character. The other characters were not explored in great depth, but they were pivotal in understanding her situation.
Audrey Tautou is mesmerising as the tormented wife. Gilles Lellouche plays Bernard, who is easy to relate to as the husband trying to keep the family happy, his wife and the gossip of the community at bay. This was acclaimed director Claude Miller's final film, as he has since passed away. It was chosen as the closing film for the 2012 Cannes Film festival, as a tribute to him. Find some short trailers and more information on this site. It is an insight into small town life in the 1920s, the role of women and the importance of a families reputation at that time.