Director Stéphane Brizé immerses us in the relentless misery of a woman at the mercy of a society determined to crush her spirit.
It is an ambitious production but requires a fair amount of patience.
In the early 19th century Jeanne (Judith Chemla) is a convent-educated girl living an idyllic existence with her wealthy parents Simon-Jacques (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) and Adelaide (Yolande Moreau).
She will wed handsome nobleman Julien (Swann Arlaud). But over the next quarter of a century all her naive, romantic illusions are shattered.
Life is filled with disappointment and it is her duty to accept her fate.
Brizé favours searching close-ups and a documentary-like realism that adds to the film’s claustrophobic feel and underlines Jeanne’s sense of being trapped.
The saving grace is an excellent performance from Chemla as she captures Jeanne’s journey from carefree youth to careworn middle-age.