Director: Catherine Breillat | Starring Dominique Thomas, Lola Creton, Daphne Baiwar | France 2009/80mins
Catherine Breillat’s latest film isn’t for everyone. Some may see this over-stylized and stagey costume drama of medieval misogyny as a poke in the eye for female supremacy in the boudoir. Others will find it about as exciting as an evening out with the man himself. Either way it’s certainly not the spine-chilling tale that springs to mind when Bluebeard is mentioned. You could even call it weird.
The story comes in two layers. The first features two little sisters and is set in an attic. The youngest and funniest one (Marilou Lopes-Benites) loves frightening the older by reading the story of Bluebeard with her own cheeky interpretations of marriage and love thrown in. This is actually very appealing. As she does so a series of set pieces filmed in 16-century garb plays out featuring Lola Creton as Marie-Christine, better known as Bluebeard’s last wife, or the one that got away and her recently bereaved mother and older sister. This strand is not dissimilar in setting to one of those medieval banquets with sixteen removes you may have once attended where your mother run you up an outfit in green chintz brocade, and a ‘town cryer’ kept saying Oye Oye and everyone looked slightly ridiculous.
Here Marie-Christine skilfully deals with the death of her father, impending family poverty and the realization that local bore and wife-killer Bluebeard might not be such a bad catch after all while she thinks about Plan B and saves the family from financial ruin.
After becoming his chatelaine, she niftily manages to avoid his bedchamber by claiming to be far too young for that that sort of thing but eventually has to call for backup to avoid the evil man’s dagger and her demise. BLUEBEARD is hardly scary, but it’s delicately-performed by Lola Creton and beautifully captured in a stylistic classical aesthetic. According to Breillat, we absolve ourselves of all the fears of real life by confronting them head-on in fiction. ©
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