Augustine

101 minutes 2013

Set in the late 19th century, this debut feature by Alice Winocour recalls the historical dramas of Benoit Jacquot (Sade; Farewell, My Queen) in the way it inverts the genre dynamic, emphasizing psychology over period ambience. The title character is an epileptic teenage chambermaid being treated by a progressive neurologist; Winocour suggests that his interest in the girl stems from an unrecognized obsession with female sexuality, and that Augustine comes of age when she becomes aware of the feelings she provokes in men. For the most part, though, the psychosexual drama plays out beneath the surface—the movie is so understated it sometimes feels inert. In French with subtitles.

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