FILM REVIEW: 'Violette'


FILM REVIEW: 'Violette'


Date: July 7, 2014
by: Pam Nadon | Contributing Columnist


"Violette" is a story about life-long unrequited love which fuels an immense talent for writing. Emmanuelle Devos, in the title role, delivers an explosive performance as a troubled woman desperately seeking emotional and professional acceptance.

Violette Leduc's self-loathing began as an unwanted, illegitimate child during WWI in France. Her first love with a fellow female student in boarding school was devastatingly doomed. A stab at marriage soon ended after a bitterly tragic late term abortion. But another failed marriage, in name only, to a gay writer was the catalyst for Violette to begin writing.

Violette sought out feminist author Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain) who recognized her talent and, in turn, introduced Violette to the existentialist literary circuit in 1940s Paris. Albert Camus agreed to help publish her work but sales were slight. In the end, it was Violette's relentless relationship (and infatuation) with mentor Simone de Beauvoir that led to worldwide recognition with the publication of "La Batarde" in 1964.

This is director-writer Martin Provost's second biopic about a female artist, "Seraphine," (2008) having been his first. His portrayal of Violette's sad and angry life is edgy, never approaching pathetic. He captures her passion so vividly we are startled by its intense soul-bearing. We feel her pain.

Devos' depiction of the deeply disturbed writer goes beyond extraordinary. Part of Violette's tortured psyche is that she finds herself physically unattractive. Devos (along with Provost's camera) incredibly manages to look the part. The transformation is startling if you've seen her in previous films (i.e. "Coco Before Chanel.").

Violette Leduc's quest for love and security became so evident in her frank and intimate ruminations that she she light on the darkest of life's secrets. And, eventually, it freed her.

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