All True Artists Are Hated: The Transgressions of Catherine Breillat
35mm Print

Breillat’s explorations of desire and pleasure are so far from the antiseptic world of most screen depictions as to seem far out. In truth she’s just fearless.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

After plumbing the depths of depravity in Anatomy of Hell—and estranging more than a few critics in the process—Breillat returned to the industry’s good graces with The Last Mistress, her elegant, erotic adaptation of Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly’s 1851 novel of the same name. The costume drama, set in Paris, 1835, concerns impoverished libertine Ryno de Marigny (Fu’ad Aït Aattou), whose impending marriage to a well-heeled aristocrat (Roxanne Mesquida) calls for an end to his unhinged liaison with La Vellini (Asia Argento), a Spanish courtesan of gossipy reputation. At the behest of his bride-to-be’s grandmother, Ryno chronicles the feverish ten-year affair, conjuring tales of carnality, violence, and devotion. The Cannes-selected picture, made after a serious health crisis (cerebral hemorrhage) nearly curtailed Breillat’s career, proved the director could temper the aggression without blunting the edge of her pointedly feminist project. Argento is ferocious in the role.

In French with English subtitles

Print courtesy of TIFF Film Reference Library

Catherine Breillat’s latest is as philosophically rigorous and psychologically revealing as anything she’s made.”

Geoff Andrew, Time Out
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