Gaborone Film Society presents a free screening of the French film “The Last Mistress” directed by Catherine Breillat. The following has been adapted from the review by Peter Bradshaw of the
Gaborone Film Society presents a free screening of the French film “The Last Mistress” directed by Catherine Breillat.
The following has been adapted from the review by Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/apr/11/worldcinema.drama
The Last Mistress is a period movie, shrewdly making the most of a medium-range budget, based on the scandalous 1851 novel by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly. Set amidst the intrigues of 19th-century Paris, it is a little like Dangerous Liaisons, though its erotic interludes are more candid, its tragedy more heartfelt, and its dialogue more cerebral, even austere. It is in fact closer in style and substance to Jacques Rivette’s film Ne Touchez Pas la Hache, based on Balzac’s La Duchesse De Langeais.
Playing Vellini, the titular mistress, is Asia Argento, the never-knowingly-unexploded sex-bomb of Euro-cinema; that fact, coupled with Breillat’s own high-wire reputation, may cause much groaning and chuckling. Argento has a bizarre hairstyle for the role: teased forward into two kiss-curls that look like a pair of buttocks. A bum on one’s forehead, however pert, is not a fantastic look, but Argento pulls it off. The sheer extravagance and passion in The Last Mistress verges on the bizarre, and yet it is a film with enormous elegance and style: high-minded and deeply felt.
Asia Argento really is outrageous, though. Her most ionospherically over-the-top moment comes after her lover has fought a duel for her, and taken a bullet in the shoulder. After the surgeon has dug it out, the infatuated Vellini enters the room as mysteriously and ravenously as a vampire and actually licks the exposed wound. She then asks the astonished surgeon if he will recover, and the poor man can only splutter that her ill-advised licking has increased the risk of infection. It is beyond irony, and Argento is the only actor in the world who could possibly carry it off.
The Last Mistress is an outstandingly intelligent, formally pleasing film, and a fascinating development for Breillat herself.
In French; with English subtitles; 1 hour, 54 minutes.
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