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Thérèse Desqueyroux

Directed by Claude Miller

France, 2012

Cornerhouse, 9 June 2013

Thérèse Desqueyroux

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.