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as The Priest
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as Milk Woman
Critic Reviews for Mademoiselle
Miss Moreau is as flawless in her lousy roles as her good ones.
Audience Reviews for Mademoiselle
Dark in its commentary about human nature, 'Mademoiselle' is both artistic and disturbing. Several say that it's the frustrated sexual desire for woodman Ettore Manni that leads to Jeanne Moreau's spate of secret violence against the town, but it's worth noting that the first fire set is accidental. I think it's more horrifying to think how arbitrary sociopathic behavior may be, that it may exist in all of us, and small turns of events turn her into a monster. The malevolence in her eyes is frightening, as is her cruelty to his son in her classroom, and we see how cruelty begets cruelty, as he dashes a rabbit repeatedly against the ground after an incident with her. That's one thing to beware of in the film, there is more than one scene of what appears to be actual cruelty to animals. There is also sexual humiliation - kissing boots, crawling on the ground, and getting spit on before being kissed - in a sequence that drags on over multiple scenes far too long towards the end. The film simply tries too hard to makes its point, sometimes with silly, obvious symbolism (for example, him unwrapping his snake and having her stroke it). Director Tony Richardson, with screen writing from Marguerite Duras based on a story by Jean Genet, certainly creates an image with this film, it's just not all that pleasant. On the positive side, he does capture several wonderful shots, mostly outdoors. It's as if he saying nature is beautiful, man is not. I also loved seeing Jeanne Moreau, who is fantastic.
Considering "Mademoiselle" is a Tony Richardson film starring Jeanne Moreau in her iconic prime, this is a strangely forgotten project. Why it is buried? Well, it's in black and white, and its countryside scenes are begging to be shot in color. It also has some distasteful animal cruelty and an understated ending that defies mainstream expectations. And perhaps it's somewhat disorienting seeing a French-language film shot by a director whose other early works ("Look Back in Anger," "A Taste of Honey," "Tom Jones," "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner) tended to be so intensely British in theme. In any case, "Mademoiselle" shouldn't be overlooked. Moreau plays the title character, a sexually repressed schoolteacher in a small, poor French village. For mysterious reasons, she is secretly setting fires, causing floods and committing other heinous crimes against her community. But her prejudiced neighbors instead suspect Manou (Ettore Manni), a Italian woodsman temporarily laboring in the nearby forest. His son Bruno (Keith Skinner) is equally disdained and even draws unfair abuse from "Mademoiselle" (her proper name is never given) during class. As the poor town's outrage grows, we come to understand Mademoiselle's twisted motive. Moreau was brilliant in these stone-faced, enigmatic roles, and this disturbing drama is another gem on her resumé.
a very subtle horror film with an excellent villainous turn by jeanne moreau
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