Eugenie Grandet: An adaptation while keeping and restraint [critique]

Marc Dugain takes hold of Balzac’s work by signing a feminist work carried by the superb composition of Joséphine Japy.

Published in 1834, theEugenie Grandet de Balzac spontaneously evokes much more the rich hours of the ORTF than a feature film of 2021. How to seize it without getting stuck in the trap of the reconstruction? How to bring a modernity to it without betraying its meaning? To these two questions, Marc Dugain provides more than convincing answers.

In line with his remarkable adaptation of The Exchange of Princesses, he remains faithful to what constitutes the heart of the story – this father ready to sacrifice everything to his obsession for money including and especially the happiness of his daughter whom he wants above all to marry to the best possible party – but by declining somewhat things. By forging a link between the condition of women at the time and the feminist struggles of today. By giving a stronger voice to Eugenie Grandet, by pulling her out of her simple relationship with her father, by recounting her construction rich in disillusions (including and above all towards this cousin whom she loves madly) and an emancipation by turning them against her. rules of this patriarchal society which wanted to break it. But he does it without forcing the line, with a staging with assumed austerity to better tell the infinite loneliness of Eugenie and, in the title role, a magnificent actress in the way she describes this interior fire that devours this character – in his excesses of the heart as in the humiliations undergone – without anything appearing there: Joséphine Japy. No room here for the sleeve effect. Dugain passes his Eugenie Grandet because he respects all its ambiguity with a mastery that is never faulted.

By Marc Dugain. With Joséphine Japy, Olivier Gourmet, Valérie Bonneton … Duration: 1h45. Release September 29, 2021

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