Directed by Claude Miller
Cornerhouse, 9 June 2013
Francois Mauriac’s novel has already been adapted for the screen once before and it makes for a captivating film here, with the extraordinary actress Audrey Tautou excelling in the title role.
Under social pressure yet also as respite from her own inner turmoil, Thérèse marries Bernard Desqueyroux, a prominent landowner. She hopes thereby to attain contentment, security, peace; but it is a vain hope. A banal if not a barren marriage is the result. She isn’t happy: answered prayers and all that.
Women in her part of the world are expected to lead simple lives; Thérèse wants something more and almost by accident, as a consequence of a casual gesture – though even that’s putting it too strongly: through at first a whim of omission – her life is destroyed.
Although a crime lies at its centre, what the film presents is really an anatomy of a marriage, if not a whole social order. The story of two very different people who almost but never quite loved each other, of a miracle that never quite happened. (Mauriac wrote that ‘to love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others’.)
All in all, a very fine film.