The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)

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Average Rating: 3.6/5

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The now-forgotten silent work La Souriante de Madame Beudet is generally regarded by scholars and theorists as history's premier "feminist film." Directed by French cinema pioneer Germaine Dulac, and scripted by André Obey from a story by Guy de Maupassant, the 37-minute piece concerns the titular character (portrayed by Germaine Dermoz), the dissatisfied bourgeois housewife of a thoughtless, self-centered shopkeeper. Decades of marital submission have reduced Mme. Beudet to irrepressible melancholia and ennui, and have rendered her an emotional prisoner to her world and herself. Her rich fantasy world, however, consists of breezy, idyllic and lyrical interludes with a host of young, handsome paramours. Mme. Beudet also fantasizes about laying waste to her husband - but every such hopeful wish fizzles out as she resurfaces in the reality of the everyday. Throughout the picture, Dulac uses such devices as slow motion, distortions, and superimposed images to paint Beudet's various emotional states onscreen. Originally produced in 1923, Madame Beudet instantly established Dulac as a force in world cinema and is generally regarded as her masterwork. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi


Critic Reviews for The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)

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Audience Reviews for The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)


Madame Beudet is trapped in a marriage that cancels her personality and the film suggests the unfortunate situation of the woman through her husband's brutal gestures: he re-arranges her flowers again and again, he locks the piano, he's mocking her in front of his friend.
I'm not sure if the title is sarcastic (Mrs. Beudet is fundamentally unhappy) or if she smiles her dreams to escape from this marriage.
She would like a divorce, but a better opportunity seems to arise when her husband leaves home, not before playing his favorite joke: suicide with an unloaded gun. She loads the gun, but is then haunted by remorse. Even more, her husband's image follows her in the night dreams.
In the morning, she tries unsuccessfully to remove the bullets from the revolver but her husband changes his mind and heads the gun to her.

Alice Smith
Alice Smith

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