DIRECTOR: Martin Provost

“No one wants me, that’s the problem!” sobs Violette in this mesmerizing biopic of tormented French writer Violette Leduc. Author of the lesbian classic Therese and Isabelle, Leduc wrote without recognition for years, financially dependent on famous friends—especially mentor Simone de Beauvoir—before finding literary success in late middle age (see also the documentary Violette Leduc: In Pursuit of Love, The through-line of this deeply layered, complex portrait is Leduc’s troubled relationship with her mentor. Pioneering feminist de Beauvoir was unstinting in her support for Leduc as a writer but rejected her desire for something more; de Beauvoir coolly treats Leduc’s huge crush on her as mere fodder for writing projects, advising Leduc to turn rejection into literature. For de Beauvoir, supporting the radical woman writer was an intellectual duty—cold comfort to Leduc, who carried a torch for her literary patron for years. Gorgeously filmed in moody blues and grays that reflect Leduc’s state of mind and France’s postwar bleakness, Martin Provost’s (Séraphine) film leaps through Leduc’s life in a series of impressionistic vignettes, making evocative use of the author’s own words.

César-winner Emmanuelle Devos gives a powerhouse performance, vividly embodying Leduc’s needy aggressiveness, whether she’s trading on the black market or stalking de Beauvoir with a bouquet of flowers. Devos manages to make Leduc’s egoism, paranoia, and desperation not only sympathetic but also comprehensible—even logical, in this brilliant portrait of a woman far ahead of her time.

— Monica Nolan

In French with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F139

Co-presented by:
Alliance Française de San Francisco

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