DIRECTED BY: Catherine Breillat
FEATURING: Lola Créton, Dominique Thomas
PLOT: A young girl from a poor family is married off to a local aristocrat with a blue beard and
a reputation for murdering his brides.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Blue Beard‘s weirdness, while detectable, is mild; and, despite its tragedy and enigmatic tone, as a film its impact is surprisingly slight.
COMMENTS: Blue Beard is not merely a period piece in setting, with its authentic medieval gowns and tapestries and frescoes and gloomy stone castles, but it’s also a throwback to an older, subtler age of storytelling with its slow, clam, and detached style. The primary actors—Lola Créton as the doomed child bride and Dominique Thomas as the unexpectedly sympathetic ogre—never raise their voices, and their expressions remain staid and repressed: obscure emotions flit across their faces, but their subtexts never fully emerge into the light of day. Even the nobleman’s trademark chromatic bristles—the mark of his supernatural origin—look black and gray in the film, only showing a slight steely blue cast in just the right light, when viewed in private with the luxury to examine it. Pacing is slow, camerawork languorous. The flatness of the film serves two purposes: it gives us the freedom to project our own interpretations on the characters, and it causes a few key images to suddenly burst into three dimensions and startle us, like pages from a children’s pop-up book. Director Breillat takes a weird approach in revealing the fate of Bluebeard’s previous wives, and the effect is successfully memorable and eerie. The enigmatic final image, a psuedo-Biblical shot that strangely casts the young girl as Salome while effectively encapsulating the spectrum of her unresolved emotions, also fairly pops. Breillat layers a framing story on top of the fairy tale wherein one little girl is reading the story to her more sensitive and easily frightened sister. It’s an interesting directorial choice, but it would be hard to claim that this device is entirely successful. In terms of pacing, it at least provides a little respite from the plodding medieval segments; thematically, the conceit Continue reading CAPSULE: BLUE BEARD [BARBE BLEUE] (2009)