A Woman's Life (2016)

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Alternative titles

  • Une vie Original


Stéphane Brizé's adaptation of the Guy de Maupassánt novel is one of those rare historical films that doesn't encase the past in a vitrine, but make it intensely present and emotionally immediate. Set in Normandy in 1819, this spare, no-frills drama offers a fragmented account of the life of young Jeanne as she sets out on the path of adult life, starting out from an idyllic rural existence with her loving parents. Marriage awaits to a viscount, but that's when Jeanne begins to experience the harsh realities of a woman's life in the 19th-century, her later woes including a feckless son and the harsh counsels of priests. The film is partly a focused, sober piece of historical sociology, as you'd expect from the versatile director of modern tough-times drama The Measure of a Man (LFF2015) – but it's also a profoundly moving drama, with a superb, career-making lead performance by Judith Chemla.

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