Dir: Catherine Breillat |France / Italy |2007|110 mins|15
Catherine Breillat (director of Romance and Anatomy of Hell) is one of France’s most unique filmmakers. A radical feminist, her films are driven by themes of female sexual empowerment. They are at times outrageous and explicit and always controversial and The Last Mistress is no exception.
Based on the novel by Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly, the story follows an intrigue among the French aristocracy in 18th century Normandy and Paris.
Whilst the plot is similar to Dangerous Liaisons with characters that are powerfully motivated by desire and unrestrained by convention the realisation is very different.
The film stars Asia Argento as Vellini, a Spanish beauty whose long running affair with high born Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou) has lead to a complex love triangle full of danger and betrayal.
This is certainly an unconventional costume drama with a very modern slant, beautifully shot and full of exquisite period detail, Breillat prided herself on the authenticity of the costumes and settings and this is clearly apparent. A visual feast, The Last Mistress perfectly encapsulates the decadence and opulence of the era.
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