Thérèse (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

Thérèse (2013)

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François Mauriac's legendary 1927 novel of French provincial life has been gloriously brought to the screen by the inestimable Claude Miller in his final film. Sumptuously photographed to capture the full beauty of the pine-forested Landes area in southwest France, THÉRÈSE DESQUEYROUX is a beautifully conceived drama of exquisite taste. Marvelously played by the luminous Audrey Tautou, Thérèse is a heroine hewn from the same stock as Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina, suffocated by her provincial marriage. Thérèse has married less for love than for convenience, but it is not long before the casual disinterestedness shown her by her arrogant husband, Bernard (Gilles Lellouche), sets her mind in motion. Life is easy at first, as Bernard's pinewood estates keep them both in the lap of luxury. But when Thérèse's best friend Anne (Anaïs Demoustier), who also happens to be Bernard's younger sister, falls madly in love with a handsome young Portuguese man, Thérèse begins to see what she has been missing in her life. Corralled by Bernard's family into persuading Anne to forego her planned nuptials, she begins to see first-hand the awesome power of passionate love, as Anne will go to any length to keep her lover by her side. Soon, Thérèse begins her own fight against the oppressive Desqueyroux family.(c) MPI Media

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Cast

Emmanuelle Riva
as Therese Desqueyroux
Philippe Noiret
as Bernard Desqueyroux
Edith Scob
as Anne de la Trave
Sami Frey
as Jean Azevedo
Renee Devillers
as Mme. de la Trave
Lucien Nat
as Jerome Larroque
Richard Saint-Bris
as Hector de la Trave
Jeanne Pérez
as Balionte
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Critic Reviews for Thérèse

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (15)

A remarkably pretty, if equally dour, portrait of the bored, oppressive life led by the provincial bourgeoisie.

September 6, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Exquisitely tasteful but suffocatingly dull ...

September 5, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

While there's a certain staid feeling to the production, it does deliver a solid working-over to the era's gentry.

August 29, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The film looks great. As for the human element, the mood is more apathetic than tragic, and star Audrey Tautou has to take much of the blame for the film's failure.

August 29, 2013 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

The magnificent nature that surrounds Therese becomes her prison. It's an interesting paradox, but not necessarily an especially satisfying experience.

August 29, 2013 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Washington Post
Top Critic

It only looks like Tautou does a lot with a little in her performance because much of her character's inner life is implied through pensive scenes of her frowning and deferring her gaze.

August 23, 2013 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
RogerEbert.com
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Thérèse

½

Therese (Tautou), the daughter of a wealthy land-owner, marries the equally endowed Bernard (Lellouche), an older man who presides over a neighboring estate, and the two families join their land together to form one large pinery. Therese, however, is a troubled individual, and soon she begins to regret the marriage, growing jealous of her childhood friend, Bernard's young sister Anne (Demoustier), who lives as more of a free spirit. When Bernard begins to suffer heart palpitations, Therese sees this as an opportunity to murder her husband by tampering with his medicine. Some actors become inextricably linked with a particular role, spending the rest of their careers trying to remove such an association. For Tautou, it's her breakout role in 2001's 'Amelie'. It's impossible to gaze on her visage without being instantly reminded of that movie. With 'Amelie' seeing unprecedented global success, the actress attempted to break into Hollywood with a part alongside Tom Hanks in 'The Da Vinci Code'. It didn't work out for Tautou and she returned to her native land, making a string of saccharine comedies. Now it seems she's out to prove she's more than a cute-faced belle by portraying the particularly nasty title character of director Miller's final film, completed before his death last year. The result is a terrible piece of miscasting. For a start, she's far too old for the role, an error compounded by asking us to believe her a mere two years older than the fresh-faced Demoustier. Tautou doesn't have the range to provide the character with any depth, resorting to pulling a "just sucked a lemon" face. Combine this with the heinous nature of the character and it makes for a tough watch. For the most part, Miller brushes aside the existential themes of François Mauriac's 1927 novel, choosing instead to focus on the potboiler murder subplot. In the hands of Claude Chabrol, this could have been an enjoyable Hitchcockian thriller, but Miller is, or sadly was, no Chabrol, and certainly no Hitchcock. Those two film-makers were experts at getting the audience onside with the most despicable of characters, a skill alien to Miller. The late director fails to evoke any empathy, or even sympathy, for his Therese, who simply comes across as a spoilt brat. She hates her life, which is one of entitlement, waited on hand and foot in a glorious house in one of France's most scenic areas. The question on our lips is why? Her answer is "I don't know!", which should provoke further examination, but Miller fails to adequately portray her existential slump. At a time when most Europeans are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, few will feel for the "plight" of Therese Desqueyroux.

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