Monday, August 16, 2021

Curiosa Review: A Delicate and Diabolical Erotic Drama

Directed by: Lou Jeunet Written by: Raphaëlle Desplechin & Lou Jeunet Cast: Noémie Merlant, Niels Schneider, Benjamin Lavernhe, Camelia Jordana, Amira Casar, Mathilde Warnier, Mélodie Richard, Scali Delpeyrat, Emilien Diard-Detoeuf Produced by: Olivier Delbosc Associate Produced by: Emilien Bignon Cinematographer: Simon Roca

Release date: August 13, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Lou Jeunet
Written by: Raphaëlle Desplechin & Lou Jeunet
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Niels Schneider, Benjamin Lavernhe, Camelia Jordana, Amira Casar, Mathilde Warnier, Mélodie Richard, Scali Delpeyrat, Emilien Diard-Detoeuf

Paris 1895. Pierre Louÿs is a Parisian dandy and poet on the verge of fame. Pierre and his friend Henri De Régnier are both madly in love with Marie de Heredia (Noemie Merlant, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), the cheeky daughter of their mentor. Despite her feelings for Pierre, Marie eventually marries Henri who has a better situation. Badly hurt, Pierre leaves for Algeria where he meets Zohra, a bewitching local girl with whom he shares a tumultuous relationship and a passion for erotic photography.  One year later, Marie still has weak feelings for her husband and Pierre comes back to Paris with Zohra. As soon as Marie hears the news, she rushes to see Pierre and confesses that she kept herself for him. They quickly start an affair and a game of cat and mouse between many players begins, full of desire, jealousy and photography. They will build their future selves by transgressing the established codes, how far will they go?

Curiosa is loosely based on some real world letters and photographs, but this appears to be a mostly modern telling of an interesting period romance / obsession.  The main draw of the film is Noémie Merlant, and she does not disappoint.  She has a way of using casual glances to explain so much of what she is thinking and feeling.  And especially for a movie where so much is placed on her, being able to communicate so subtly is an important feature.  And the rest of the cast doesn't disappoint either, with an equally nuanced, dramatic performance from Niels Schneider.  He is every bit the counterpart to Marie, and their love / affair forms the main driver of the film's story.  

And Curiosa is a beautiful film, with a good recreation of 1800s Paris and especially the photography aspect.  There is something special about seeing a picture being developed before your eyes, and Curiosa does a good job of drawing this out.  And the setting helps a lot to set the atmosphere in the film, with creaks from the house (and the furniture) and walls that are not as thin as you would expect helping to drive some of the story elements forward.  And although the film is set in the 1800s, the story it tells feels very modern; which is highlighted by some great music at the start.  Although the film itself and everything on screen is from the 19th century, the soundtrack playing below this has some interesting techno.   

But although this film is a well done erotic drama, the film itself feels like there are aspects that get rushed.  Large events happen without much explanation.  The viewer can figure it out but there are some big jumps that occur in the timeline with little to no reasoning given.  And the characters make some very abrupt decisions during these times and I did not really appreciate why.  Also, despite the great music appearing at the start and at the end, it does not make much of an appearance throughout.  I would have liked this theme to be a through line for the film, rather than a great musical start and finish.  And the film ends fairly abruptly without giving the characters and story the send off I was hoping for.

Curiosa's well made drama, erotic elements, and stellar performances by Merlant and Schneider will draw you into this delicate and complicated romance story.

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube
Tailgate is available on July 30, 2021 via Virtual Cinema, VOD, and digital platforms.  For showtimes, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment