french films > The Beautiful Person (La Belle Personne)

The Beautiful Person (La Belle Personne)

La Belle Personne

The Beautiful Person (La Belle Personne)

cast: Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

year: 2008

colour: yes


director: Christophe Honoré

runtime: 97

Madame de Lafayette’s novel, La Princesse de Clèves, is an unlikely favourite for screen adaptation, but after eccentric versions by Andrzei Zulawski (La Fidélité) and Manoel de Oliviera (La Lettre), here’s the third, very free modern-day adaptation, in a decade. Only a year after his musical, Les Chansons d’amour (Love Songs), Christophe Honoré – who’s proving to be almost as industrious as compatriot François Ozon – turns in his simplest and most affecting film to date, a story of amorous intrigue in a Parisian lycée. Enigmatic new girl Junie (Seydoux) is turning the heads of all around, including gauche co-student Otto (Leprince-Ringuet), and teacher Nemours (Garrel), who – although only a little older than his pupils – still has an alarmingly loose view of staff-student relations. Unfussily shot, this is Honoré’s most straightforwardly realist work to date – up to a point – and his regular lead, Garrel, is kept on his mettle by an ensemble of co-stars younger and, in some cases, prettier than himself. A selection from the Nick Drake repertoire makes effective accompaniment, and, as in Love Songs, some singing is involved – although High School Musical French-style this most certainly ain’t.


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