Marriage brings a life of privilege, misery for ‘Thérèse’
A movie review of “Thérèse,” a polished, capable adaptation of François Mauriac’s 1927 novel about an intelligent, upper-class Frenchwoman (Audrey Tautou) who marries a dullish provincial landowner and suffers the consequences.
San Francisco Chronicle
‘Thérèse,’ with Audrey Tautou, Gilles Lellouche, Anaïs Demoustier. Directed by Claude Miller, from a screenplay by Miller and Natalie Carter, based on a novel by François Mauriac. 110 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In French, with English subtitles. Varsity.
“Thérèse” is a polished, capable adaptation of François Mauriac’s 1927 novel “Thérèse Desqueyroux,” about an intelligent, upper-class Frenchwoman who marries a dullish provincial landowner and suffers the consequences. While there’s a certain staid feeling to the production, it does deliver a solid working-over to the era’s gentry.
In preamble, set during an idyllic summer at a handsome country house near Bordeaux, we meet teenage Thérèse and her best friend, Anne, the daughter of a neighboring landowner. Thérèse already realizes that her future probably involves Bernard, Anne’s brother.
Flash forward a few years, and Thérèse (Audrey Tautou) is about to marry the boorish Bernard (Gilles Lellouche), both aware that the match is being made more for dynastic than romantic reasons. Happiness is not in the offing.
Thérèse spends much of her time chain-smoking and staring sullenly into the distance. She gives birth to a daughter, which does nothing to slow the disintegration of her marriage and her inner life. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that Thérèse’s misery prompts a rash action.
“Thérèse” is a measured film, and you might occasionally wish it were less so, but director Claude Miller, who died last year shortly after finishing it, makes his point well enough.
Miller was mentored by several New Wave directors, including François Truffaut, who probably would have been pleased by this evisceration of the smug and selfish moneyed types. The movie is a fine swan song.