The Last Mistress

Not rated yet!
Director
Catherine Breillat
Runtime
1 h 54 min
Release Date
30 May 2007
Genres
Drama, Romance
Overview
Secrets, rumors and betrayals surround the upcoming marriage between a young dissolute man and virtuous woman of the French aristocracy.
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VJ Morton4
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  • TIFF Capsules — Day 7

    TIFF Capsules — Day 7

    IT’S A FREE WORLD …, Ken Loach, Britain — 5
    This is mostly Loach in his “good” mode, staying off his soapbox and with the leftistical pinko points being made by the events rather than speechifying. Unfortunately, he didn’t make a very good film in his “good” genre. He does, typically, get a great central performance from the unknown Kierston Wareing as a worker for a labor-recruitment agency named Angie who loses her job and decides to start her own immigrant-employment service. She’s smart, wily and has an entrepreneurial spirit — a kind of Anglo-Saxon Rosetta with more about her head. What makes Angie so compelling is that the second-level character touches are all there — her defensiveness toward her father, say, and the fact that she does try to help people. When it’s not against her interests, that is. There is also one terrific “character” turn, by Raymond Mearns as the Glaswegian bartender Andy, whose “yooz wummun” speech is just a joy to listen to for its working-class tinfoil-hat quality.

    But, and this is about the last thing one would expect to say about a Loach film, the script really isn’t sufficiently focused. Subplots like the Polish boyfriend just sort of peter out. And there is a crime that takes place in the next-to-last scene that is simply ridiculous — both narrativewise (it happens out of nowhere, but is resolved far too quickly and the scene ends on a line that the Coen Brothers blew away in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) and detailwise (a criminal would hardly give *this* speech under *these* circunstances; plus it’s as economically silly as most Loach soapboxing). And that’s it, plus an obviously symmetrical coda; the film doesn’t so much end as stop. And the bad Loach occasionally rears his head, e.g., Angie asks an Iranian family why the had to leave and the only thing clear in the sound mix is the father blaming the US overthrow of Mossadeq in 1953. The man and wife in this family look to be in their 30s.

    THE LAST MISTRESS, Catherine Breillat, France — 4
    My favorite Breillat so far, but that really is saying only that THE LAST MISTRESS didn’t want to make me claw my eyes out (ROMANCE made me want to mutilate myself in other ways). The big-budget period piece (an adaptation of a Barbey d’Aureville novel about an aristocratic marriage and a Spanish prostitute whom the man can’t let go of) does somewhat rein in Breillat’s perversity or pervertedness. And she has an interesting theme — how hatred and jealousy can fuel romance and (especially) sex. There’s a scene in which a character slashes another across the face that draws blood in more ways than one. But remember when I said “somewhat rein in.” Somewhat. Asia Argento still cannot act, but she have very large and round boobs, a fact of which Breillat constantly reminds us. While showing Roxanne Mesquida’s flat chest for comparison. The pervs and the feminists will no doubt form a Coalition of the Willing around this film.

    ATONEMENT, Joe Wright, Britain — 9 (changed from 8 )
    Organizing my notes for this, I realized just how strong ATONEMENT is and how completely brilliant is the third act, hence the upgrade. Saying why this film is so great will require giving away the entire plot. I profited immensely from going in knowing nothing of the novel (something Wright’s first film obviously had no hope of) and having at least forgotten about a certain member of the cast (brainlock from seeing 5 films a day does have its advantages). ATONEMENT opens in theaters shortly, so I’ll speak vaguely. The film is segmented into three easily definable acts. The first, set in a 1935 British manor, is great. The second, following several characters from the first act through the years of World War II, is pretty good but we’re starting to feel things get rote. The third act is a mind-blower that turns the whole movie inside out.

    The first contains most of the virtues people will expect — Keira Knightley will get most of the praise (and hopefully a cheeseburger) as Cecilia, but James McAvoy as the social-climber/gardener Robbie persuades me for the first time that he’s something more than a boyish face. The two have an incredibly erotic sex scene while hardly taking off any clothes (they’re in the manor library … appearances, people), while bathed in not-quite expressionistic dark shadows. And the kids are the best of all, note-perfect in their desires to be more than kids. Saorise Ronan as aspiring writer Briany, Cecilia’s sister, and Juno Temple as Lola both think they are more mature than they are (milked for comedy in Lola’s case) and both make the mistake of their lives, in different cases. By the second act, Briany now played by TIFF Acting MVP Romola Garai, has come to realize her mistake but the war effort and residual anger block her efforts to come back to terms. This contains a shot, of the evacuation at Dunkirk that’s already causing sneers and unfavorable comparison to CHILDREN OF MEN. But I didn’t “spot” its length (maybe because I wasn’t primed to), plus it’s more of a look-around within a defined space shot, more in common with the opening shot of THE PLAYER than CoM.

    The third act. I will come back to this capsule later (and edit accordingly) … probably when the fest is over. But there will be SPOILERS aplenty. Suffice to say fernow that the last shot, of a cottage on the white cliffs of Dover is absolutely gorgeous. And absolutely heartbreaking.

    A GIRL CUT IN TWO, Claude Chabrol, France — 4
    I have to come clean and admit that Chabrol just may be a blind spot of mine. I have seen about seven of his films but have never really been blown away by one (LE BOUCHER came closest). This film has a few funny epigrams like “Old age is when you start saying ‘I never felt so young’,” but it passed before my eyes for 100 minutes without leaving a single emotional mark on me. It’s not awful; professionally done in every way, the events happen, the plot resolves itself, the movie’s over and I’m left shrugging. I think it may be that Chabrol is neither a distinctive stylist nor a great story-teller nor does he have a body of work strongly united by theme or genre (all my favorite directors have at least one of those; most more). Or perhaps that GIRL, like many of his movies, has events that center on a murder and so can sound like some kind of semi-thriller. But the pacing and tension are just too tepid for GIRL to be considered anything but a failure on those genre terms.

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    September 15, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

    3 Comments »

    1. Sweet! It seems that wordpress assumes that everyone wants to type in l33t-speak. Your rating change for ATONEMENT shows as moving from the icon for a cool smiley face in sunglasses to a “9”. I have no idea if that’s an upgrade or a downgrade, but personally I think the film should be a :P. Good job, however, on recognizing the awesomeness of Romola Garai.

      Comment by cstults | September 18, 2007 | Reply

    2. Corrected snafu on the smiley face, which happens when the characters “8” and “)” appear in consecutive spaces in HTML. Or rather, I just inserted a bad extra space (I know no way to correct or otherwise “work around”).

      Comment by vjmorton | September 18, 2007 | Reply

    3. […] said when I saw ATONEMENT at Toronto, that I would later discuss the ending, which had me completely broken. It did it again when I saw […]

      Pingback by A godless atonement « Rightwing Film Geek | January 17, 2008 | Reply


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  • Victor in clover
    (”The Last Mistress” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Victor in clover

    On Sept. 12 at Toronto, I saw two French films I didn’t much care for — Breillat’s THE OLD MISTRESS and Chabrol’s GIRL CUT IN TWO. Fortunately, I got vicarious revenge that very day.

    France 0, Scotland 1.

    I couldn’t watch the game, but I celebrated by getting extra-hammered at a late-night gathering with Theo and a couple of Americans. And I’ve since watched this clip a hundred times:

    But this one, which beat the French last October in Glasgow, I did see live (well, in a Washington sports bar, but going mad with it in real time):

    This double victory over the French, who haven’t otherwise lost a tournament qualifier in almost a decade, gives us a real chance at qualifying for the Euro 2008 by claiming one of the top two spots in a Euro qualifying group that features the two reigning World Cup finalists. Looking at the standings, I’d feel better if Italy hadn’t won 2-1 in Ukraine on the same day as Scotland’s second victory over France. If the Ukrainians had “held serve,” Italy would have three fewer points and I’d be prepared to stick a fork in it. As it is, we’ve got three games to go and we’ll need to get results in our two home games with Italy and Ukraine (both of whom beat us 2-0 in their country). I’m confident we’ll do that, but I’m worried about the trip to Georgia, which is exactly the sort of game against an “easy team” or the exotic or unknown that has tripped up Scotland frequently in the past. (Yes, in Scotland, even the Catholics are Calvinists who expect the worst.)

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    September 18, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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    1. […] a Calvinist right now, particularly for me since so much of the success has come at the expense of The Perfidious French. Here is what “Oor Wullie” says (fae “ma bucket“) has happened in the last […]

      Pingback by Sports roundup « Rightwing Film Geek | October 4, 2007 | Reply


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  • TIFFing time again
    (”The Last Mistress” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFFing time again

    If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival lineup is any indication, it will be a long fall, with the Artist-Industrial Complex lecturing about the evil that is (in the words of this blurb) “the so-called War on Terror” (and the rest of the usual demonology). With that in mind, I didn’t give a bunch of films playing at this year’s festival so much as a second look — here’s the whole list of Toronto movies and presentations that I would not see on principle. I saw the subject matter or read the descriptions, crossed it off and moved on.

    Looking at that list, or rather the length of it (20 films and several presentations) — I really have to wonder if alienating conservative viewers is something Hollywood, Indiewood and the Festival Mafia do as a conscious marketing strategy or is just so much their unstated “Dasein” that they can’t even step outside themselves to see it.

    But in a festival of almost 300 films, that’s not an insurmountable loss. In fact, here is another pretty distinguished list (will try to reconstruct later, VJM) — the films I really wanted to see but probably will not (I may juggle stuff around, depending on buzz). For the most part, it was simply a matter of scheduling, trying to squeeze a quart of 60 must-see films into a pint pot of 50 time slots. You can get to their individual pages from this list-page.

    • Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, Britain) — no explanation needed, I hope
    • The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh, India) — Amitabh Bachchan, the world’s biggest star, in his first English role
    • Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea) — the pansori singer was the best part of Im’s Chunhyang
    • Christopher Columbus: The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal) — another weird-out conversation piece like A Talking Picture?
    • The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, France) — every film by the New Wave Masters is an event
    • Juliette Binoche in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Amos Gitai — can maybe the world’s greatest actress help out torpid auteurs?
    • The Pope’s Toilet (Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay) — wack premise could make a great semi- (or even non-) blasphemous black comedy
    • Juno (Jason Reitman, USA) — Thank You for Smoking as a debut film; plus, later, Mike d’A says strong buzz from Telluride
    • Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, USA) — Ryan Gosling; the word “Lars” and the use a puppet to substitute for a person (Ryan, stay the hell away)
    • Boy A (John Crowley, Britain) — echoes of Nolan’s Memento and the Dardennes’ Le Fils
    • Ellen Burstyn presents Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More (Martin Scorsese, USA) — No explanation needed, I hope

    So … bitching over.

    Unlike last year, I got all my first choices, and this festival is shaping up with the potential to be the greatest ever. After a so-so first day, the potential masterpieces come in daily and in bunches — Andersson, Herzog, Rohmer, Maddin, A. Lee, Baumbach, Olmi, Lee M-s, Ozon. Plus enormous buzz on the Bar-Lev, Van Sant, the Coens and Matsumoto. The films by the uneven Miike and Loach look to fit the maker’s good molds rather than the bad ones. Plus Cannes prize-winners by Mungiu, Kawase, Lee C-d. And my first exposures to Tarr, Reygadas, and Jiang. The Breillat and Arcand even seem tolerable. A rediscovered Ford silent, plus a contemporary-made silent slapstick homage. Even Greenaway, whose last film became the first I ever walked out on, is cause for optimism — getting back into Dutch paintings and a group of militiamen, so can we expect The Draughtsman, The Thief, His Wife, etc.? And to top it all off — Max von Sydow presenting one of Ingmar Bergman’s movies a few weeks after his death.¹

    This will be an awesome week-and-a-half. Here is my planned schedule.

    6 SEPT
    630pm Fugitive Pieces (Jeremy Podeswa, Canada)
    900pm The Brave One (Neil Jordan, USA)
    1159pm The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, Italy)

    7 SEPT
    915am You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
    noon The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, Japan)
    400pm One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)
    715pm Les Chansons d’Amour (Christophe Honore, France)
    900pm Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, Taiwan)

    8 SEPT
    1000am Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, France/Iran)
    1245pm The Man from London (Bela Tarr, Hungary)
    330pm The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
    600pm No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, USA)
    900pm The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, USA)

    9 SEPT
    200pm Bucking Broadway (John Ford, USA, 1917; presented by Peter Bogdanovich)
    345pm In Memory of Myself (Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
    600pm Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, Britain)
    900pm Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland)

    10 SEPT
    1000am 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
    1215pm Happiness (Hur Jin-ho, South Korea)
    300pm Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Britain)
    700pm Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA)
    915pm My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, USA)

    11 SEPT
    1100am Children of the Sun (Yaldey Hashemesh, Israel)
    100pm Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, Spain)
    345pm Operation Filmmaker (Nina Davenport, USA)
    600pm Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, USA)
    915pm Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA)
    1159pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Japan)

    12 SEPT
    930am It’s a Free World… (Ken Loach, Britain)
    noon The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France)
    230pm Atonement (Joe Wright, Britain)
    600pm A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol, France)

    13 SEPT
    930am Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, Australia)
    1230pm Reclaim Your Brain (Hans Weingartner, Germany)
    300pm Days of Darkness (Denys Arcand, Canada)
    515pm Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
    915pm A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan)

    14 SEPT
    900am Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
    noon M (Lee Myung-se, South Korea)
    300pm The Walker (Paul Schrader, USA)
    545pm Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years (Jacon Thuesen, Denmark)
    800pm The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1960; presented by Max Von Sydow)
    1159pm Dainipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)

    15 SEPT
    945am California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
    1245pm Angel (Francois Ozon, France)
    245pm Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Britain)
    600pm The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
    800pm My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada)
    1100pm Just Like Home (Lone Sherfig, Denmark)

    ——————
    ¹ Was there nobody in Italy to do the same for Antonioni? Or is/was any tribute programming done at Venice?

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  • TIFF Grades — Days 6/7
    (”The Last Mistress” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFF Grades — Days 6/7

    11 SEPT (skipped two morning “filler” films to catch up sleep
    OPERATION FILMMAKER, Nina Davenport, USA — 7
    MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, Noah Baumbach, USA — 8
    PARANOID PARK, Gus Van Sant, USA — 3
    SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO, Takashi Miike, Japan — 7

    12 SEPT
    ITS A FREE WORLD …, Ken Loach, Britain — 5
    THE LAST MISTRESS, Catherine Breillat, France — 4
    ATONEMENT, Joe Wright, Britain — 8
    A GIRL CUT IN TWO, Claude Chabrol, France — 4

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Soiled Sinema1
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⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • The Last Mistress
    I am not that big of a fan of degenerate and repulsive French feminists. I am also not that into period pieces. The thought of both of th...
    ...
    (Review Source)

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