Une Vieille Maîtresse (The Last Mistress) (An Old Mistress) Reviews
in a nutshell, the tale goes like this: a penniless libertine swoons a beautiful chaste woman of higher birth, the jewel of french aristocracy, but he has a hard time terminating his 10 year affair with a wild gypsy-like she-devil, a seed of illegitimate union(princess and matador). the male libertine deserts his mistress for the virginal lily, and he believes he's whole-heartedly in love, then this gluttonish she-devil traces him to his newlywed chateau to re-kindle their illict sparkle. then the man succumbs...later, his wife discovers then has a miscarriage by broken-heart. eventually the libertine has ruined the happiness of his precious wife as everyone predicts. the classic quotation here would be "in love, the first to suffer has lost"....
undoubtedly, the she-devil is played by the notably spunky italian actress asia argento who's been taking roles of brave indiscreet women since the 90s, her smashing performance in 1998 "b monkey",,,then her role is always tough woman-rebel or daredevil whore...i've always been amazed by her gritty beauty, and i've never found any character she performed abrasive despite the inevitably repeated typecasting until the moment after i watched "the last mistress"...her interpretion is fine and perhaps argento is the only actress who could render this role due to her winsome features which are literily designed for this role. but i've got to admit, asia argento's no longer the same fresh-faced ingenuine who toys between reckless seductiveness and brittle naivete that i saw 10 years ago in her american debute "b monkey"...she's upgraded into a more spiteful lilith-like being who ruminates and devours in full masterful manipulation in catherine breillant's "the last mistress" which definitely decreases her likability.(or she just ain't that gorgeous as she was in 1998?)
the castings of the leads are absolutely a gallery of striking fair youth, and the male protagonist has a pair of juicy smackable lips, eyes of sheer transparent blue, and skin made of milky streaks of porcelain, same for the blonde-haired woman-protagonist, so statuesque like people who stride out of europe's classical paintings. somehow that makes the setting even more peculiar and oddly persuasive, accompanied by such cherishable beauty, you would still like to cheat with a third party who may not rival your wife? perhaps the ignition of lust could surpass any romantic sentimentality you've been deeply inspired. the director's camera frame has manifested well on that by a shot of the man's wedding ring and the illict woman's snake-shaped bracelet.
this movie's made with some refinement which surprises me since it's done by the same brazen woman who chooses to bare a vaginal frontal scene and have his lead woman sex with a real porn actor in "romance"...but honestly i'm still deeply annoyed by her sexual politics in this latest movie of hers. why, as a woman, she has to be so tremendously selfish just for the sake of shameless unbridled freedom even it would cause pain to others??? it even features one scene where argento's character smirks at the cornered seat of church when the man's wedding is to be proceed on with some drab bliblical admonisments for marital virtues on women as if she lures the man just to defy church out of taunting contempt...would she care the other party which's never done any damage to her? personally if that's the necessary attitude to pronounce your feminist right, it's better to have no part of it when your blissful emancipation has to be built by the sacrifice of those irrelevant people. wouldn't woman, in this case, just descends into the accomplice of man to wreck other woman's life?
[font=Century Gothic]Just because Catherine Breillat, the high priestess of provocation, has made a sumptuous but talky(so much so that she gets dangerously close to Eric Rohmer territory.) period piece with "The Last Mistress" does not mean that she is making a bid for respectability which puts her on the same level with her heroine, who she has quite a bit of sympathy for. In 19th century Paris, Vellini, 36, is beyond the age when any reputable woman should be married. The fact that she is also promiscuous, fond of sex, smokes cigars, leaves and departs the opera when it pleases her and on one very special occasion, dresses in men's clothes makes her a further outcast amongst the nobility that she socializes with. Breillat takes her story and uses it to explore the notion of love outside of marriage. Now, if only she had an actress with more talent than presence in the lead role.[/font]
Gone for the moment are the easy provocations and in their place a more mature, subdued autopsy of the sexual politics that are Breillats stock in trade.
The images have a casual loveliness reminescent of ken russell or derek jarman's approach to costume drama, asia argento is at her caged animal best and fu'ad aattou is channeling a young mick jagger of sorts.
I'm unfamiliar with director Catherine Breillat previous works. I've heard that she's a famous feminist director. This movie is based on Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly's novel and is an erotic french costume drama. As I'm a big fan of Asia Argento's movies, I couldn't pass this up.
Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou) is an infamous libertine and has been engaged to a beautiful, virginal, rich, aristocrat, Hermangarde (Roxane Mesquida). All of Paris is astounded that this marriage is doomed. The Viscont de Prony (Michael Lonsdale) and his Wife have been warning Hermangarde's Grandmother, the Marquise de Flers (Claude Sarraute) of Ryno's 10 year affair with Vellini Annesley(Asia Argento).
The worldly Marquise de Flers is aware that most marriages don't last 10 years and asks Ryno to explain his affair with Vellini before she can consent to the upcoming wedding. Ryno is perfectly candid, spending most of the night telling her every sordid detail of their torrid love affair. Of course, we're able to see everything too. Somehow, he is able to convince her that he and Vellini are over.
Both Ryno and Vellini are oddly androgynous to each other, with Ryno a swollen-lipped, soft, pale-skinned romantic and Vellini a capricious, cigar-smoking, sexually aggressive temptress. They are obviously drawn to each other, although can it still be considered love?
Perhaps, I'm too infatuated with Asia Argento, but I can see where Ryno is coming from, and I really enjoyed this film.
(2007) The Last Mistress/ Une Vieille Maîtresse
(In French with English subtitles)
For some people to appreciate this film has to have a better understanding about French history since I have no idea during which person this film is set on. I do know that I had already seen this type of situation before on other historical films that taken place during that era and I must say this has to be one of the most boring ones I had ever saw. Based on the Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly novel starring Fu'ad Aït Aattou as a 30 year old, boyish penniless aristocrat Ryno de Marigny who's engaged to be married to Hermangarde (Roxane Mesquida)the daughter of a wealthy countess. Except that he can't seem to completely ignore this other "mistress" Vellini (Asia Argento) who also was married to a wealthy old socialite but eventually does not want to have anything to with him. For a good portion of the film, Ryno reveals to the wealthy countess how he's historically connected to his other mistress, while she determines whether he's the right person to marry her daughter. Even with the running time of 104 minutes, it still felt very long and 'shallow' for even though we have a better understanding of the situation that we seem to lose sight of the motivation which this affair was supposed to be started off with a bet between two men. This film is identical to other films such as "Dangerous Liasons", "Valmont", "Dangerous Beauty", "Bel Ami", "Restoration" and "The Duchess" among other movies.
And because it's directed by the controversial director Catherine Breillat expect small scenes of full frontal nudity of Asia Argento for you may have to wait quite awhile to see it, or use your 'fast forward' remote.
1 out of 4 stars
Based upon controversial French novel "Une vieille maîtresse/An old Mistress" by Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly. Just like most of the French movies The Last Mistress doesn't hesitate from sex, seduction and brutality of love.
It's a story about a young rich French Ryno de Marigny who is ready to get married into a Nobel family. Just before getting married he confronts in front of his future rich wife's grandmother about his last old mistress of 10 years. The movie unfolds how Ryno falls head over heels for an older married woman, who is not even pretty or graceful. It's the rawness which attracts Ryno towards her, whom he first called an ugly nut.
Fu'ad Aït Aattou a newcomer played Ryno with utmost honesty. He is divine and his falling for an Asia Argento's ambiguous character is questionable. But that's the whole point of love, lust and seduction when two unlikely people meet and ruin everything around them along with each other. Asia Argento is amazing, even though I saw her first in Marie Antoinette as French king's crazy mistress raised question of her action ability because she acted the same as she acted here. If I ignore that she was in tedious Marie Antoinette and Une vieille maîtresse release long before atrocious Marie Antoneitte. I actually loved her performance. There are many few actresses who can let them emotionally and physically open like that. You forget that it's the part of an act as it looks reality. Fu'ad Aït Aattou and Asia Argento's chemistry makes this a memrable venture. The long sex confrontation scenes are the proof how involved they are with the subject. Roxane Mesquida as Ryno's wife is stunning as always.
Une vieille maîtresse is a controversial tale of lust, love and seduction. Overall, I enjoyed the movie even though I wanted the characters to be smart not so naïve and stupid, lost in sex, lust and seduction.