20 January 2018

UNE VIE or A WOMAN'S LIFE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




UNE VIE or A WOMAN'S LIFE. (2016) DIRECTED BY STEPHANE BRIZE. ADAPTED FROM THE GUY DE MAUPASSANT NOVEL OF THE SAME NAME. STARRING JUDITH CHEMLA, SWANN ARLAUD AND NINA MEURISSE.

'Lies are sons of darkness, and you are a daughter of light.'

'Do you imagine for one second that this detestable affair will end of its own accord?'

'Life is never as good or as bad as you think it is.'

I always love films about how tough women had it in the olden days, ie, in the nineteenth century, films about how social and societal mores of the day placed women strictly at the bottom of the totem pole as merely the chattels and possessions of men, with neither minds of their own nor anything worth saying or listening to.

MADAME BOVARY was a book/film that gave us a clear picture of marriage in the olden days. Women couldn't wait to get out from under the- usually iron- rule of their parents and the way that they did it was to get married. Ironic, wasn't it? They were merely exchanging one despot for another. Women never, ever really get that until it's too late, though.

UNE VIE is a marvellous example of one of these films. Jeanne is a woman who's living in Normandy, France in 1819. She's positively the apple of both of her parents' eyes and her life isn't so bad. They're rich and live in a fabulous chateau called the Chateau des Peuples.

Despite her parents' obvious adoration and the cushiness of her life at the Chateau, Jeanne can't wait to embark on the adventure of matrimony. Her choice is a handsome young nobleman called Julien De Lamare. There are many gorgeously-shot flashback scenes of the two of them cavorting about the glorious countryside making kissy-kissy faces at each other and enjoying a jolly courtship.

They seem to be getting so intimate before marriage that I was kind of surprised that the wedding night was such a terrible shock for poor Jeanne. She seems utterly horrified at what a breathless Julien is doing to her.

Hasn't her mother had a word in her shell-like about the rigours of matrimony and what women have to endure to get knocked up with the babies that will henceforth occupy their entire lives? It certainly doesn't look like it. She's as shocked as a really shocked person who's just received a terrible shock, to be honest with you.

Julien changes for the worse once they've married, surprise surprise. His true colours as a bully and a penny-pinching miser shine gaily through once the ring is on the wedding finger, much to Jeanne's distress. The chateau is freezing cold and yet Julien begrudges Jeanne the bit of kindling she uses to light the fire and the candles she needs to light the house after dark.

There's this very funny bit where the husband comes home from work and starts yelling: 'What the fuck's up with all these fucking candles? They're costing us a fucking fortune!' It's the olden-days equivalent of a guy bitching about how there're lights on in every room in the house when he gets home from work and he's not a fucking millionaire so turn those bloody lights off, lol. Yeah yeah, we heard you...!

Anyway, the maid Rosalie, Jeanne's friend and companion since childhood, appears to be pregnant right about now. She refuses to reveal the name of the father but it's as clear as day to the angry viewers who the Baby-Daddy is. For Chrissakes, we have eyes, don't we, lol.

When Jeanne finds out for herself, she's distraught. And you know what they say, don't you? Once a cheater, always a cheater. Just ask any one of our modern-day so-called 'celebrities.' Julien will almost certainly cheat again. Next time, he may not get off scot-free...

The birth of Julien's and Jeanne's own son Paul only creates a whole new set of problems for Jeanne. He's a troublesome- and troubled- child and his adulthood is a disaster. With a
penchant for zany, crazy money-making schemes that inevitably go tits-up, he's mired in debt and brings his devoted mother down with him with his emotional blackmail and threats to commit suicide if his mother doesn't keep him out of Debtor's Prison with her rapidly diminishing wealth. What a jerk...!

Poor Jeanne. A life of trouble, pain and suffering thanks to Julien and Paul, the two men in her life, and she's constantly laid low with horrible ongoing bronchial infections as well. Probably as a result of living in the draughty old chateau that her hubby was too mean and stingy to heat, is that.

Incidentally, I think the priest was way out of order with what he forced Jeanne to do with regard to, um, well, I can't tell you because that would be a spoiler. I wouldn't recommend letting the culprits away with their sins or anything but surely that matter could have been handled with more finesse. And practically threatening Jeanne with hellfire and brimstone if she didn't do what she was told was a bloody disgrace. For shame, padre!

If you're wondering, by the way, why the title A WOMAN'S LIFE is merely UNE VIE instead of UNE VIE DE LA FEMME or DU FEMME or some such, it's because UNE with an 'E' means lady or the feminine and 'UN' without the 'e' means you're talking about a guy, a dude, a bloke, a geezer, a walking sperm-bank and meal ticket, lol. Why am I being uncomplimentary about fellas? I'm not. I love 'em. In small doses...

UNE VIE is in cinemas now and it will definitely look stupendous on the big screen as the scenery and period costumes (my own 'period' costume is a T-shirt and comfy sweatpants accessorised by a nice box of choccies and a glass of wine, haha!) are out of this world. If you miss it in the cinema, then do make sure to catch it when it comes out on home entertainment release.

It's a deliciously absorbing story, well-told, with affairs and intrigues and babies being born on the wrong side of the blanket and posh people knocking boots out of wedlock (well, they're married all right, but just not to each other!) and lovely old castles in it. There's tons of social commentary in it too, just in case you're feeling guilty about enjoying yourself too much with all the sexy shenanigans. Seriously, what more could you ask for...?

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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