Worth a look: Breillat’s “Bluebeard”

I honestly didn’t expect to be as knocked out by Catherine Breillat’s sublime adaptation of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale as I was. I’m not sure I’ve seen a film released in the US this year so laden with truly shocking moments—not just because of their sometimes violent content but also because of their formal daring.

The last quarter or so of this exceptionally tight film struck me as being so sui generis, so singularly expressive, I couldn’t help but think that Breillat had achieved something at the level of film form that places her among such provocative and rigorously systematic stylists as Robert Bresson and Straub-Huillet. Perhaps I’m overreacting. Who knows. Nevertheless, I’m prepared to claim that “Bluebeard” is mandatory viewing for anybody genuinely interested in the medium’s formal possibilities.

Here’s the kicker: If Breillat’s “Fat Girl” or “Sex Is Comedy” or even “The Last Mistress” were more or less postmodernist in their graphic melding of humor, sex and trauma, “Bluebeard” is a more resolutely modernist work, delighting in its own elliptical mode of narration and striking yet economically composed images. It’ll be interesting to see which direction Breillat heads in next: Should she continue to mine this vein of bold formalism (something that was also present, or at least hinted at, in “The Last Mistress”) or return to her previous project of pushing film content to its pornographic limits?

“Bluebeard” is now available for rental at Four Star Video Heaven. Very, very highly recommended.

For good measure, here’s the film’s trailer (en français):

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