Festival de Cannes 70: Thérèse, 1986

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

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Alain Cavalier‘s film of Thérèse, and her longing to commune with God, is an extraordinary experience, told with intricate poise and grace, the religious pleasure a saint like Thérèse can feel is hardly inaccessible. Winner of 6 César Awards in 1986, defeating the likes of 37°2 le matin, and Jean de FloretteThérèse shone brightly in Cannes too, not only winning the Jury Prize, but also garnering a Special Mention with the Ecumenical Jury. Truth be told, and this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no film quite like it. The visual style has a kind of elaborate, human restraint, while director Cavalier and cinematographer Philippe Rousselot capture within the frame a lingering, provoking nature. There is little reason for lavish sets and props, instead items are isolated, and the film’s use of minimal scenery and production design is by no means a reflection of budget restraints – nor does it ever cheapen the atmosphere. Rather this simplistic tool segregates not only the characters, almost like a theater sound stage, but also us, the audience, without making it claustrophobic. Cavalier’s direction dictates the pace, what we see, and ultimately how and when we experience it. The central performance by Catherine Mouchet is riveting and resonates with a hopeful, sullen beauty – the striking resemblance to Thérèse too is easy to see.

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