Violette (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
February 16, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Violette” is a fantastic film from Martin Provost about one of the greatest French writers from the 20th century, Violette Leduc showcasing an emotional, powerful performance by Emmanuel Devos. Recommended!
© 2013 Adopt Films, LLC. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Violette
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 138 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color, 16:9, French Dolby Digital 5.1 with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Adopt Films/Kino Lorber
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014
Directed by Martin Provost
Screenplay by Martin Provost, Marc Abdelnour, Rene de Ceccatty
Producer by Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto
Co-Producer: Olivier Rausin
Associate Producer: Myrina Mane, Sebastian Schelenz
Cinematography by Yves Cape
Music by Hugues Tabar-Nouval
Edited by Ludo Troch
Production Design by Thierry Francois
Set Decoration by Catherine Jarrier-Prieur
Costume Design by Madeleine Fontaine
Emanuelle Devos as Violette Leduc
Sandrine Kiberlain as Simone de Beauvoir
Olivier Gourmet as Jacques Guerin
Catherine Hiegel as Berthe Leduc
Jacques Bonnaffe as Jean Genet
Olivier Py as Maurice Sachs
Violette is a finely nuanced portrait of Violette LeDuc (Emmanuelle Devos), one of the foremost French writers of the 20th century. In a beautifully mounted production, director Martin Provost (Séraphine) depicts LeDuc’s extraordinary life, from her low beginnings as the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl to becoming ensconced in France’s literary elite. In spite of her wretched years as an unwanted child, followed by tense years as a black marketeer during WWII, Violette LeDuc is determined, obsessed even, to make something of her life. Writing is her ticket out of misery, and with the encouragement and mentorship of legendary intellectual Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain), Violette achieves admiration, renown and controversy for her emotionally raw novels and memoirs, finally winning freedom from wondering where her next meal will come from. Superb performances by Emmanuelle Devos (Coco Before Chanel) and Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon) make this gorgeously shot and directed life story an engrossing and memorable cinematic achievement.
Violette Leduc is known for her novels lasting from 1946-1973.
Her first novel, “L’Asphyxie” (In the Prison of Her Skin”), her novel earned praise from Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet. But it’s her memoir “La Batarde” that would receive prominent acclaim.
But the life of Violette Leduc was never easy, in fact, her life was tense and full of anxiety and misery and her life was brought to the big screen courtesy of filmmaker Martin Provost (“Seraphine”, “Le Ventre de Juliette”).
The film would star Emmanuelle Devos (“Read My Lips”, “Kings & Queen”, “Coco Before Chanel”), Sandrine Kiberlain (“The Women on the 6th Floor”, “Alias Betty”), Olivier Gourmet (“The Son”, “Read My Lips”, “La Promesse”), Catherine Higel (“French Twist”, “A French Gigolo”), Jacques Bonnaffe (“Venus Beauty”, “The Page Turner”) and Olivier Py (“When the Cat’s Away”, “Les yeux fermes”).
The film is set during the final years of World War II. A hopeful writer Violette Leduc (portrayed by Emmanuelle Devos) lives with her husband, author Maurice Sachs (portrayed by Olivier Py), a gay man who does not love her, but for Violette, she is a woman who needs acceptance but always not feeling wanted.
Violette is the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl and spent most of her childhood suffering from poor self-esteem due to her mother’s cold treatment and excessive protectiveness of her.
And now, she works in the blackmarket trying to secure food products for money. As Maurice encouraged Violette to write, it wasn’t until she began to focus writing her novel, while working in the blackmarket to survive.
But as she finishes writing her first novel, she sends her book to renown writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (portrayed by Sandrine Kiberlain). Simone helps guide Violette by critiquing her novel but was impressed by Violette’s first book as Violette is able to deliver her true self and not hide behind anything. So, Simone is encouraged to send her final manuscript to publisher Albert Camus for his new collection. And Simone introduces her to other contemporary intellectual icons such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet and Albert Camus.
But as Violette looks to make a living through her books, her anxiety and low self-esteem start to get the best of her as she receives lower-print runs than her male counterparts.
And as Violette slowly starts to succeed, she begins writing more books, but when publishers ask for revisions, Violette is disturbed, hurt and frustrated that her work will never be accepted. And when her depression starts to kick-in and prevent her from writing another book, will this be the end of Violette Leduc as a writer?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Violette” is presented in 16:9. Outdoor scenes look good as one could expect on DVD, especially Violette visiting the countryside. Skin tones are natural and for the most part, the film is colorful and well-presented.
As for the soundtrack, the French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is clear and understandable and the English subtitles are easy to read.
“Violette” comes with no special features.
Martin Provost’s “Violette” is a fascinating film about author Violette Leduc, one of the well-known writers from France in the 20th century.
While the film centers on her adult life of writing her first book and other books she wrote not long after, the film is clearly a portrait of Violette Leduc, the woman and the emotional difficulties she had faced.
And despite the hardships, Provost shows Violette as a woman who tries her best to take on her demons, to try and take hold of her life, not only to survive but to make it as a writer. Especially during the times when women had no rights compared to their male counterpart.
Simon de Beauvoir was not only seen as a feminist but also a woman who believed in Violette’s work and for the most part, defended her and did whatever she can to make Violette’s work reach the public.
Unlike many writers who hide behind the truth, it’s Violette’s sincerity that captivated her and and many readers.
And fortunately, the performance by Emmanuelle Devos and Sandrine Kiberlain were both magnificent. Devos gives an award-winning performance as she must go through the various emotional states of Violette and make us believe the character’s anguish. Kiberlain, while Simone de Beauvoir is not as emotional, the character remains a pivotal character in the development of Violette throughout the years as a writer.
The film is beautifully shot by Yves Cape (“Holy motors”, “Ma Vie en Rose”, “White Material”) in capturing the emotion but also the beautiful landscape where Violette goes to escape.
As for the DVD, there is no Blu-ray version of this film that has been released. And it’s a bare-bones release with no trailers included.
Overall, “Violette” is a fantastic film from Martin Provost about one of the greatest French writers from the 20th century, Violette Leduc showcasing an emotional, powerful performance by Emmanuel Devos.
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