Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for October 16th, 2013

Camille Claudel 1915

Directed by Bruno Dumont

      In 1915, Camille Claudel (Juliette Binoche), a French artist and mistress of sculptor Auguste Rodin, was banished to an asylum run by a church in 1915. She didn't understand why she's at the asylum and wished to be freed from it because she felt imprisoned there physically, emotionally and spiritually. The priest (Emmanuel Kauffman) listened to her lengthy explanations about why she doesn't belong there. Her hope of attaining that freedom remained intact as she waited for the arrival of her brother, Paul (Jean-Luc Vincent), who was the one who sent her to the mental hospital to begin with.

      Camille Claudel 1915 would not have been so truly mesmerizing and heartbreaking without the brave, raw and convincingly moving performance of Juliette Binoche who bares it all--physically and emotionally--for the titular role. One could easily wonder how she managed to shake off the role physically and emotionally. No other actress would have been able to sink her teeth so believably into such a complex role, so Binoche is perfectly cast. Camille cries a lot, screams, ponders, prays and smiles (briefly), which means that Binoche goes through a roller coaster ride of deeply human emotions.

      Writer/director Bruno Dumont doesn't shy away from depicting the mental and emotional torments that Camille Claudel went through at the asylum. In some ways, one could call this a psychological horror film because it's so unflinchingly dark and harrowing. Dumont includes a few ephemeral pockets of levity, i.e when Camille watches a play with some of the inmates of the asylum, but the levity quickly transitions into darkness. Watching Camille going about her daily routines helps to humanize her and, eventually, to sympathize with her. Moreover, Dumont finds just the right balance between quiet, somber moments and very talkative ones. The quiet ones feel even more captivating ironically because there's an inexplicable power to quietness. Many of the shots during the quiet moments look like paintings given the exquisite use of lighting and compositions. The film might as well have been shot in black-and-white because the colors onscreen are muted which effectively compliment the somber mood. Fortunately, Dumont knows just the right moment to end the film at 95 minutes because if it were past the 2 hour mark, it would start to get tedious and repetitive. He also cleverly avoids the trappings of excessive exposition while concurrently avoiding the use of flashbacks; he leaves just enough room for interpretation and provides you with some food for thought about religion, class, art and basic human rights, many of which Camille has lost upon setting foot in the asylum.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Kino Lorber.
Opens at Film Forum.

Kill Your Darlings

Directed by John Krokidas


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Landmark Sunshine Cinemas.

Questions? Comments? Please click here.

Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Avi Offer
The NYC Movie Guru
Privacy Policy