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Emmanuelle Devos (Kings & Queen) stars in this gorgeously rendered biopic of the acclaimed French novelist Violette Leduc, whose intense and fraught relationship with Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kimberlain) fuelled her fearless, nakedly confessional writing.
Simone de Beauvoir. Her name summons
up an entire universe. Feminism. Sexual
freedom. Post-World War II France in the
grip of intellectual fervour. The Second Sex.
And it also summons up the names of those
who passed through her life: Sartre, Camus,
Merleau-Ponty. This heady world is the setting
for a remarkable film about one of de
Beauvoir's friends, acolytes, admirers, and
fellow travellers, the relatively unknown
Violette Leduc. Leduc was in many ways as
much of a pioneer as de Beauvoir, but while
fame, success, and fortune fell relatively
easily to the latter, Leduc found herself on
another path, struggling throughout much
of her life with poverty, indifference to her
work, and psychological issues.
In a brilliantly conceived, finely honed
and fiercely etched portrait of Leduc, Martin
Provost leads us through chapters depicting
her tumultuous life, each centred on a person,
a place or the title of one of her books.
We begin in wartime France, with Violette
eking out an existence in the countryside
with a writer, Maurice Sachs, who urges
his volatile houseguest to take up the pen.
Discovering a copy of one of de Beauvoir's
books, she is on her way to befriending the
famous — and famously severe — author, and
writing her own remarkably honest and
profoundly moving books. Her love for de
Beauvoir was a driving force in her life, and
her feelings for her mentor were both intellectual
The film is gorgeously shot, beautifully
acted by Emmanuelle Devos as Leduc and
Sandrine Kiberlain as de Beauvoir, and
directed with economy, grace, and distinct
control. This is not a biopic in the traditional
sense, but a stirring and profound, deep and
sympathetic look at an artist whose sexuality
provided the core of her writing, and who
was fearless in confronting the pain and
reality of being a woman. Breathtaking.
- Martin Provost
- Martin Provost was born in Brest,
France, and worked as an actor and
theatre director before turning to
film. A published author, his feature
films as writer-director include
Tortilla y cinema (97), Le Ventre de
Juliette (03), Séraphine (08), which
screened at the Festival, The Long
Falling (11), and Violette (13).