Camille Claudel, 1915
PRODS Jean Bréhat, Rachid Bouchareb, Muriel Merlin
SCR Bruno Dumont
CAM Guillaume Deffontaines
ED Bruno Dumont, Basile Belkhiri
PROD DES Riton Dupire-Clément
PROD CO 3B Productions / ARTE France Cinéma
In one of her most committed and profound performances, the great French actress Juliette Binoche plays Camille Claudel some years after the famous sculptress was committed to a benevolent asylum by her family. Pinning her hopes on a longed-for visit from her brother, Camille keeps herself apart from the other inmates and for the most part enjoys a degree of trust and respect from the nuns, but her composure is fragile and she remains bitter and paranoid when the subject of her old lover Auguste Rodin comes up. Most tragically of all, she refuses to return to her work.
A radically different take from the tempestuous biopic that earned Isabelle Adjani an Oscar nomination in 1990, Bruno Dumont’s film is restrained, sometimes harrowing, but singularly authentic and deeply felt—an experience you will not soon forget. As in Dumont’s previous work (it includes L’humanité, Flanders, and Outside Satan), nonprofessional actors figure prominently—Camille’s fellow inmates are largely played by the mentally ill—but this uncompromising realism is put in the service of searching philosophical questions about God, grace, transcendence and the absence of these things.
“I wait for each new film by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Abbas Kiarostami, Claire Denis and Bruno Dumont. I enjoy all sorts of films, but… I feel closest, in my work, to Dumont. Dumont’s films are basically existential works, philosophical films, not political ones. I think of my own films that way.”—Michael Haneke