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Murderous Maids

Murderous Maids (2002)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 53
Fresh: 48 | Rotten: 5

A historical account that is equally disturbing and engrossing, with a powerful performance by Sylvie Testud.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 19
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 1

A historical account that is equally disturbing and engrossing, with a powerful performance by Sylvie Testud.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 562

My Rating

Movie Info

The story of sisters Christine and Lea Papin, two house-maids who, in Le Mans in February 1933, brutally murdered Madame Lancelin and her daughter Genevieve. Sent out to work at an early age, Christine and Lea are employed as maids by the Lancelins and treated well. The girls share an attic room and the relationship between the older, more domineering Christine and her much younger, rather simple-minded sister Lea turns into a sexual one. One day, when the mistress of the house and her daughter

Sep 23, 2003

Rialto Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (53) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (5) | DVD (9)

Sylvie Testud gives such a ferociously controlled performance that the messy murder seems like a necessary release.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Unfortunately Denis' detached and indifferent camera never gets inside the story, its characters, or its milieu.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film studies a world of deeply entrenched class divisions and sexual taboos, and then, with a scream in the night, draws the study to a close, leaving its meaning, like that of the case that inspired it, open to interpretation.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Julie-Marie Parmentier and Sylvie Testud are eerily convincing as the intense pair of co-dependents in the rigorous but creepy drama Murderous Maids.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Convincingly played, but some way short of revelatory.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though far from a feel-good affair, it is never cheap or cynical. Its creepiness is well-earned.

July 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Constructing this story with sensitive slowness, Denis keeps the sensational aspects surrounding these incestuous lesbian sisters in check, letting a fantastic performance from Testud carry the movie.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Film4

The acting is convincingly macabre, with Sylvie Testud giving an absolutely superb delirious performance.

October 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Good performances and a firm directing hand make this worthwhile despite the distasteful subject matter.

May 31, 2004

Sylvie Testud is nothing less than ferocious...Even in her stillness, she's compelling.

April 15, 2004 Full Review Source:

Its unevenness can be forgiven due to the boldness of dealing with such a taboo topic matter ,and despite all of its problems, this film makes for a fascinating 90 minutes.

March 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Newspaper stories or television coverage on murders far removed from the local scene accomplish as much, and are often as quickly forgotten

October 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

provocative but a bit flat

September 20, 2003 Full Review Source:

One wonders if they'll make similarly sympathetic films about O.J. Simpson in 70 years.

November 21, 2002 Full Review
Planet Sick-Boy

Spare but quietly effective retelling.

November 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Oregonian

...salaciously simplistic.

October 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)

Highly recommended as an engrossing story about a horrifying historical event and the elements which contributed to it.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Denis and co-writer Michele Petin's impeccable screenplay penetrates with a rawness that that is both unflinching and tantalizing. Lead provocatuers Testud and Parmentier give superlative performances

October 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Eye
Movie Eye

The dreamy, almost poetic nature is entrancing.

September 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

'The film is stark, straightforward and deadly... an unnatural calm that's occasionally shaken by...blasts of rage, and later, violent jealousy.'

September 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Never inspires more than an interested detachment.

August 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Murderous Maids

Disturbing true-life tale of madness that resulted in the brutal murder of a woman and her daughter by their maids, two sisters. Sylvie Testud plays Christine, the elder sister who harbors an unnatural attraction for the less intelligent, younger Lea (Julie-Marie Parmentier) that develops into obsession. The film develops slowly, at times revealing the anger that lies just below the surface in Christine, and at other times showing how the two girls feed each other's fantasies about how their lives would be under other circumstances. Add in a mother (Isabelle Renaud) who seems to care little about her daughters other than how they can make her life easier. The acting is credible, the script plausible and the action keeps one engrossed, especially that of the two sisters interaction when they are alone in their room. The violence at the end is graphic and brutal, but mercifully off camera for the most part. We see the blows and hear them connect, but the actual impact is just out of the frame. There can be no doubt that Christine has taken leave of her senses by the end of the film, and one feels pity for her for that reason. This is a well-done film, just not a whole lot of fun to watch.
June 5, 2010
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=gray]Whenver I'm reviewing a movie, I always make a conscious decision to give away as little as possible while at the same time summarizing the themes of the movie and most importantly telling you whether or not I liked it. "Murderous Maids" does indeed concern 1) maids & 2) murder. The only mystery to viewers unfamiliar with the real life crime is under what circumstances the crime will be committed.[/color][/font]

[color=#808080]"Murderous Maids" starts out with a flashback to a less than idyllic childhood as the Papin sisters are being sent to be raised in a convent.(Much is intimated about the disfunctional Papin family structure but very little is explicitly stated.) Emilia escapes the familial cycle by becoming a nun. Christine(Sylvie Testud) soon follows her mother into domestic service as a maid, even though she does have a problem with holding down a job for very long. Her little sister, Lea(Julie-Marie Parmentier), soon follows and joins Christine on a couple of jobs. Christine rebels against the notion of ever being married. She has always felt that she has had to look out for her younger sister but now the relationship becomes unhealthy when Christine does not only seek to form any outside friendships but also to prevent her sister from doing so, also. And then it gets disturbing...[/color]

[color=#808080]I did like "Murderous Maids", especially with Sylvie Testud anchoring the movie with a great performance as someone constantly on the verge of losing her sanity.(Her similarily great performance in "Fear and Trembling" took some of the same emotions and moved them in a comic direction.) I thought the family history could have been detailed better but the movie succeeds by focusing on the relationship of the two sisters and does not seek to sensationalize or romanticze any of it. I am slightly disappointed that the movie missed a chance at being more of a political statement than it occasionally hinted at.[/color]
February 18, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Murderous Maids (Les Blessures assassines) (DE)
  • Murderous Maids (Les Blessures assassines) (UK)
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