Sunday, October 20, 2013

Camille Claudel, 1915 (Bruno Dumont, 2013)

This was my first Bruno Dumont film, and I've heard it's something of a departure for casting so prominent a star as Juliette Binoche. On the evidence of this film, though, I'm not exactly rushing out to catch up on his filmography. Nakedly exploitative, the film relies on a cast of actual mental patients to hammer home the point that Binoche's sculptor does not belong in an asylum, lending the numerous close-ups of blank smiles or pained facial contortions a grotesque element that draws no humanity from their faces. Elsewhere, the blandly ascetic frames, suggesting no inner life, only the starkness of external patriarchy weighing down on the artist, suggest Bresson by way of someone who hasn't paid much attention to Bresson, and for all the didactic fuss the film attempts to make about Claudel's outrageous silencing, the camera itself only ever takes the point of view of the men.

My full review is up now at Spectrum Culture.

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