France, 2009, 78 minutes
Fri, Apr 24 / 7:15 / Kabuki / BLUE24K
Sat, Apr 25 / 9:30 / Kabuki / BLUE25K
Wed, Apr 29 / 4:15 / Kabuki / BLUE29K
Following last year’s Opening Night sensation The Last Mistress, France’s masterful Catherine Breillat returns to the Festival with this playful, intoxicating and highly personal rumination on Charles Perrault’s 17th-century fairytale about a gloomy nobleman with a penchant for murdering his wives. In a safe bourgeois home, sometime in the 1950s, two young sisters withdraw to the attic for repeated readings of the titillating tale. The younger of the two, Catherine, reads aloud to frighten both herself and her more timid sibling with the evocative power of Perrault’s brisk pages. The story’s ogre (a lugubriously corporeal yet canny Dominique Thomas) appears a veritable mountain beside his slender virgin bride (the sparkling, effortlessly voluptuous Lola Creton), whose name, Marie-Catherine, echoes that of our young reader as well as the filmmaker herself. This young but gritty beauty will undo the strangely attractive monster with the sheer frank force of her nature. Meanwhile, just like the child trembling with undimmed excitement at her hundredth reading of the tale, we still revel in presentiments and foreshadowing: our heroine, for example, watching a cook leave a headless goose twitching in its death throes, its neck a bloody phallic stump (come and get it!). Breillat brings forward and mingles in a deliberately jarring fashion the palpable sensuousness of two worlds—the fairytale and childhood—to capture provocatively, and with more than a little silent laughter, a seminal moment at work in the terror of children’s stories: enough for a lifetime of fantasies; a lifetime to murder and create.
North American Premiere.