Le Bal des folles: Mélanie Laurent films the women’s choir [critique]

A successful adaptation of the novel by Victoria Mas. A strong and very mastered film about the oppression of women in the 19th century

Three years later Galveston, Mélanie Laurent returns behind (and in front of) the camera, working for the first time for a platform. We can comment on the regret of not being able to admire in the cinema the beautiful work on the light of Nicolas Karakatsanis, the very eclectic director of photography of Triple 9, Me, Tonya and Cruella. But at least the film exists under the conditions that allowed the filmmaker to take hold of Victoria Mas’ novel, Prix Renaudot des Lycéens 2019 and inspired by real events that took place in the 19th century.

This “crazy ball” took place every year at the heart of the Salpêtrière hospital on the initiative of Doctor Charcot, who invited all of Paris to come and contemplate his patients as one would go to the zoo. Some were really sick, but the majority were indeed sane and forcibly interned by relatives frightened by their freedom or their supernatural gifts. Like the heroine of this story, Eugenie, able to communicate with the deceased, too bright and passionate for this world stifled by male domination. Never crushed by the reconstruction of an era, Mélanie Laurent films this choir of women from a good distance. And be careful to tell this story through the prism of a group (via an amazing cast: Lou de Laage, Lauréna Thellier, Alice Barnole, Coralie Russier…) and not of a unique individuality. As if to finally offer the floor to these mocked, muzzled, stifled voices, with a real talent for creating the rise in power of a tension whose explosion does not disappoint. A success.

By Mélanie Laurent. With Lou de La age, Mélanie Laurent, Emmanuelle Bercot… Duration 1h38. Available September 17

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