In the late 17th century Louis XIV's wife (Isabelle Huppert) founds a school for the daughters of noble French families made destitute in the king's wars. She offers the girls a liberal education and insists they abandon their dialects for proper French, only to see them become magnets for the local nobles' lust and take the idea of free thought a bit too seriously. A severe cleric intervenes, and books are burned—a history of ancient Rome is said to “distract from piety.” Patricia Mazuy's 2000 costumer is a bit stilted, but it does provide insights into the conflicts of the period, and Huppert's inscrutable severity is effective. In French with subtitles. 119 min.

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