Released on Friday 12th January from Arrow Films, Une Vie is a French film adaptation of the novel by Guy de Maupassant from director Stephane Brize (The Measure of A Man) which tells the story of one woman and her life, where she marries a scoundrel, has a son who is difficult and all in all her life does not meet the high mark of ambition she hoped for.
Shot majestically with a regal air, the film has a painterly quality reminiscent of notable French film-making from Eric Rohmer to the renaissance painting of Monet and Vermeer.
Figures standing in medium shot allowing a performance to take hold and come to fruition, you can feel the harshness of the environment helped by the lack of orchestral soundtrack; Brize chooses to use the wind and weather to provide the noise swirling within Jeanne's (Judith Chemla) delicate psyche.
A film for cinephiles and those amour with French cinema especially, the film is both ravishing for the eye and a dramatic film of a life gone wrong; with a brilliant performance by Judith as the woman whose life we watch.
Yet it is a strange film; a male has written this epic sweeping film full of lustrous landscapes and sweeping vistas a la Wuthering Heights, yet she treats her female lead with a certain level of contempt. She is unattractive for large sections of the film, down at heel and treated with contempt by male protagonists - from her lying husband to her stay away son - even to the director himself who does not use capital letters 'une vie' for the film's title page at the film's conclusion.
A Woman's Life is released from Arrow Films on Friday 12th February in selected cinemas.