Therese Desqueyroux Review

Therese Desqueyroux

What is it that makes something feel so quintessentially French?

Well, whatever it is, Therese Desqueyroux has it.

We begin with two young girls in rural France playing in the summer.

The two girls are best friends, but very different souls; one’s the simple sort who enjoys the simple way of life that children born into wealth can afford without even thinking about it.

And the other is a far more complicated girl.

This is Therese and, even at the ripe old age of twelve, Miss Larroque is distinctly aware that she thinks too many thoughts in that pretty head of hers.

I know the kind.

Still, these two bosom buddies have a close bond that should grow even stronger when Therese reaches marrying age.

For her best friend’s brother, Bernard Desqueyroux, has already announced his intentions to marry Therese and unite their two families as well as their considerable fortunes.

Which is less than fortunate for our heroine.

Oh, she likes Bernard fine enough, but there’s no real love between the two; yet, inexplicably, Therese still seems quite keen on getting married.

Being a complicated girl, the soon to be Mrs Desqueyroux believes getting married to an older man might be the solution to all those unusual thoughts that swim around in her head.

If only life, or Therese, were that simple.

Therese Desqueyroux

Based on the book of the same name that I’ve never read, Therese Desqueyroux is the new Audrey Tautou shaped film starring everyone’s favourite French actress.

And by everyone, I of course mean me.

Being unfamiliar with the source material, I was a little unprepared for the melancholic source material that makes up Therese Desqueyroux.

In a gallic snail shell, it’s all about the convenience and inconveniences of marriage in twenties France.

In what turned out to be director Claude Miller’s final film, Therese Desqueyroux is beautifully shot with a few fleeting glimpses of some typically French flavoured flights of fancy as Mademoiselle Tautou’s Therese plays out some of those inner most desires in her head for the audience to see.

But this is no Amelie, and these moments quickly fade away as the sad fate for Therese slowly unfolds.

Therese Desqueyroux is a pleasant enough adaptation of a classic French novel from a bygone age, but it might struggle to find an audience outside of its native home.

And fans of Tautou’s more upbeat films might be underwhelmed by her latest film’s understated nature.

Jonathan Campbell

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June 2013
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