Camille Claudel 1915
Out Now On-Demand
Juliette Binoche is famed French sculptress Claudel, institutionalised in an asylum at the turn of the 20th century by her younger brother. Picking up Claudel’s story in the year 1915, the film uses personal correspondence and medical records to detail her experiences - focusing on Claudel’s attempts to win her freedom over the course of a three day period.
Initially excited about her brother’s pending visit to the mental asylum, Claudel grows more heated in one-on-ones with both her doctor and sibling as she fights to defend her sanity amidst a growing sense of panic and despair.
Drama, True Story & Biography, World Cinema
Rating: M Adult themes
French with English subtitles
One of the most divisive voices in European cinema of the past twenty years, French auteur Bruno Dumont’s work can be so alien in its rigid formalism that it even makes Michael Haneke’s most severe misanthropic hectoring seem like a casual stroll in the park. Marked by the po-faced remove of his direction, and consistent employment of non-professional actors, Dumont, whose closest antecedent is Robert Bresson, has never been commercially friendly, so the fact that his latest film, Camille Claudel, 1915, is receiving a theatrical run outside of festival screenings here is a rare occasion that’s cause enough for cinephiles to celebrate. That it’s his first film to star an internationally renowned name like Juliette Binoche is no doubt a contributing factor to this, but to assume that Dumont is making any concessions to the masses wouldn’t be accurate - Camille Claudel, 1915 is as ascetic and austere as anything he’s done, and definitely not for everyone.
Focusing on a brief period in the life of Claudel (Binoche), the gifted protégé of pioneering sculptor Auguste Rodin who was confined, for reasons unbeknownst to her, in a mental asylum in Southern France, Dumont removes dramatic signposts expected of traditional biopics, carving a minimalist narrative, in which she eagerly awaits a visit from her brother, from the monastic clockwork routine of her experience. Haggard, frumpy, and surrounded by real-life mentally handicapped patients who unnervingly underscore her isolation, Binoche is stripped of any star quality, producing a performance of piercing, soul-baring purity. A welcome cinematic detox completely unlike anything you’ll see in theatres this week.
Screen Daily (USA)
Time Out London
New York Times
Binoche is Claudel .
This film is definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Very little dialogue, no fancy camera work but director Bruno Dumont manages to make you fully share the experience the protagonist is going through and truly realise the hardship. Juliette Binoche is simply amazing, as expected.