Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Daniel Auteuil, Marianne Denicourt, Jeanne Balibar, Grégoire Colin, Isild Le Besco
Director: Benoit Jacquot
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sade, based on the Serge Bramly novel of the same title, is an account of how the famous philanthropist and infamous pornographer met, befriended and fell in love with a young woman during his incarceration.
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A Refreshing Look at Sade
Dexter Tay | 06/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In Sade, the course of events that unfolds takes place predominantly at the Couvent of Picpus - where everything seems to hover over an atmosphere of emptiness and a lack of dramatic twists and turns, albeit an undercurrent of death was in fact persistently pervading the unknown fates of a resigned aristocratic, motley crew.
That the sense of nihilism that pervades the film cannot be overlooked - neither should it be overstated. Sade acts as a form of commentary on the plight of his fellow inmates - a parody of their plight that perhaps shouldn't be taken too seriously. Through bawdy banter, philosophical quips, a play-turned-mime and eventually a sex ritual, Sade provides antidotes to an environment of uncertainty and nihilism into one that is filled with curious alternatives and untrodden by-roads.
The style of director Jacquot is informal to the point the film looks like a documentary rather than an epic narrative on Sade. Nevertheless, the set is gorgeous and tableaux-like, each movement and background carefully nuanced and crafted, the audience partaking as a voyeur in the whole process.
Auteuil's genius in portraying Sade could only be described as sublime - if only it wasn't his on-screen persona that was emanated. The rest of the cast make for an interesting potpourri of individuals; Emilie de Lancris with her insousciant yet inquisitive youthfulness stokes a vivacious coupling with an inveterate Sade, the (mis)matching necessaire of the chevalier and his protector, Vicomte de Lancris with his adulterous affair and world-wearied wife and the opportunistic but stately landlord Coignard and last but not least - the cool allure of Madame Quesnet, Sade's wife.
The film also displays sensitivity to historical accuracy in terms of costuming - Robespierre's appearance and clothes well-resembled those he wore in his portraits, assuming the style known as the Italianate "Incroyable" in the first half of the 1790s. The scene showing the storming of the Hotel de Ville was also realistic, with Robespierre's brother jumping out of the window to flee persecution. However, the execution scene did not reflect the report that Robespierre was faced up at the guillotine. A guillotine was indeed, as records show, placed before the gates of the Picpus convent.
This is a film that will indisputably challenge one's pre-existing perception of Sade and perhaps even come to accept this portrayal of Sade as philosophical, thoughtful liberal of his day, rather than merely a sex-craved, perversed maniac that he has come to be identified with under the much-abused term known as Sadism.
P.S. The whites of the film looked yellowish and greenish on the DVD format, while the VCD was much better in terms of colour. However the DVD version preserved the original uncut versions which demystified the parts that had been censored on my VCD version. It also comes with an interesting interview with the director Jacquot, Auteuil and Denicourt as well as some behind-the-scenes shots.
A film about French history and seminal historical character that is absolutely necessary to and could only be performed in French!