french films > A Simple Heart (Un Cœur Simple)

A Simple Heart (Un Cœur Simple)

A Simple Heart

A Simple Heart (Un Cœur Simple)

cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Marina Foïs, Pascal Elbé

year: 2007

colour: yes

certificate:

director: Marion Laine

runtime: 105

Marion Laine offers a literary adaptation in a classic mould – that is, in the classic and spare French mould (cf. Pascale Ferran’s recent Lady Chatterley), rather than the over-opulent heritage-fest we’re used to in Britain. This is a thoughtful, evocative expansion of the Flaubert short story – the one that famously inspired Julian Barnes’s novel Flaubert’s Parrot – about the travails of a maid in a Normandy household. Sandrine Bonnaire, in one of her best performances of late, plays Félicité, who is disappointed by love and finds service in the house of a severe employer, Madame Aubain (Marina Foïs). Bonnaire is excellent as the resilient but emotionally vulnerable protagonist, her radiant features rarely used to more eloquent effect. Meticulously observed period detail, both in production design and in daily customs, fills out a complex, thoughtful picture of Flaubert’s rural world. The result is a document of nineteenth-century class relations and a picture of two very different kinds of female existence; Laine’s attention to mistress as much as servant, making A Simple Heart very much the story of two women. And, of course, a parrot.

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