Audrey Tautou was in New York City for the the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema with her latest film “Therese Desqueyroux”, based on the classic novel by Francois Mauriac published in 1927. This was also the final film directed by the late Claude Miller (“Garde a Vue”, “A Secret”) who co-wrote the screenplay. A 1962 film version starring Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) was also shown at Rendez-Vous.
Before the screening, Annie Miller, widow and producing partner of Claude, said that for her husband, Audrey Tautou was a Stradivarius. He had other projects in mind for her.
Therese (Tautou) believes that her head is “too full of ideas”, which scares her. She marries Bernard Desqueyroux (Gilles Lellouche) from another landowning family, hoping to “calm” herself. When her friend and sister-in-law confides to Therese about a secret romantic passion, Therese realizes how unfulfilled her own life has become. She plans an escape by secretly increasing the dosage of her husband’s medicine.
Therese is quite unlike the happy and optimistic characters Tautou played in films like “Amelie”. Tautou gives a strong performance, conveying Therese’s emotional conflicts, her awakening fervor, and chilly determination for revenge. Tautou gives Therese more depth than in her previous film characterizations.
As director, Claude Miller effectively builds tension in a stifling period setting. The film is absorbing. Therese’s actions have unexpected consequences. She finds that no matter what happens, her husband’s wealthy family is determined to keep up appearances.
At the screening, Tautou said that Therese Desqueyroux is the “most challenging part” she has played. She said that her character’s attempt to gain freedom is universal. She described Therese as an “anarchist of feeling”.