2009 Running time: 80 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

French art house pornographer Catherine Breillat switches styles for this engagingly macabre nursery yarn. When two two sisters are left destitute by the death of their father, the youngest agrees to marry rich but loathsome ogre Bluebeard. Strangely, their match is a happy one... until she disobeys his orders not to stray into a locked chamber. Slowburning terror based on the original story by French writer Charles Perrault.

Director

  • Catherine Breillat

Cast

  • Dominique Thomas

  • Lola Creton

  • Daphne Baiwar

  • Marilou Lopes-Benites

Review

With The Last Mistress, French art house smut mistress Catherine Breillat took a step away from the provocative porn-obsessed fare - Sex is Comedy, Anatomy of Hell - where she made her name.

Here she completes the journey with an alluring foray into the world of the children's story, albeit the macabre fairy tales of French writer Charles Perrault.

Bluebeard is a lardy ogre who terrifies the locals - not because of his azure face fuzz - but because every girl who tied the knot with the blubbery aristo (think Nicholas Soames) disappears within a year.

Two sisters - Marie Catherine (Creton) and Marie-Anne (Giovannetti) - have hit hard times following the death of their father, who died under the wheels of a cart while trying to save a child.

Snaring Bluebeard would give them security and Marie, a self-confident, inquisitive waif, finds herself strangely attracted to the hairy aristo. In fact, she ends up marrying him.

The odd couple appear to make a perfect pair...until Bluebeard is called away and trusts Marie to have the run of the chateau...but not the chamber at the end of the corridor.

In tandem to the traditional tale, Breillat also features two sisters relating the Bluebeard story in an attic, a device that seems pretty pointless until a shocking denouement.

Breillat's simplistic, spare approach pays dividends, particularly harnessed to sympathetic playing from the two girls, particularly Creton.

Like all good kids' tales, there's something nasty lurking in the woodshed and here the grim revelation makes a resilient heroine of the innocent Marie.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Breillat film without somoene getting it in the neck. Here's it's the uncharitable sanctimony of the Catholic church.