Emmanuelle Devos is hypnotic as Violette Leduc, the French writer whose fearless memoirs, championed by Simone de Beauvoir, broke new boundaries for women in literature. From the director of Séraphine.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Martin Provost (Séraphine) celebrates another great, unruly original in this dramatic portrait of writer Violette Leduc. Leduc, played with compelling intensity by Emmanuelle Devos, struggled for years before achieving success in 1964 with her intrepidly honest memoir La Bâtarde. We follow Leduc from tough times as a wartime black marketeer to her acceptance by the literary avant-garde of postwar Paris. It was Simone de Beauvoir (a stern, charismatic Sandrine Kiberlain) who discovered Leduc and became her most influential advocate. She was also the most straightforwardly uninterested of the many raging crushes that fired the potent mix of anguish and desire in Leduc’s writing. Evoking postwar severity and a bristling intellectual milieu with bracing exactness, Violette provides a convincing portrait of a literary pioneer whose fervent undertaking was simply to vouch for herself. “A deeply satisfying fictional film about the French writer Violette Leduc... Although the classical style of the director Martin Provost can feel overly staid, he holds you with the ferocity of two very different and difficult women.” — Manohla Dargis, NY Times
“These may be the finest screen hours yet for Devos... Provost shoots most of the film in a rapturously wintry natural light. And with the aid of production designer Thierry François, he gives acute attention to the physical processes of writing – pens scratching across paper, loose pages glued into notebooks – all adding to the film’s hypnotic, sensuous pull.” — Scott Foundas, Variety