Catharine Breillat, French provocatress extraordinaire, is one of those filmmakers, much like America's Paul Thomas Anderson, Denmark's Lars von Trier, South Korea's Park Chan-wook as well as her own fellow countryman Gasper Noe, that one either adores or despises. Breillat's oeuvre is filled with films that not only challenge societal norms and take us filmgoers to places we really do not wish to ever go again, but also that burrow into our brains like that weird space bug that Kahn puts in poor Chekov's ear in The Wrath of Kahn - eating away at us from the inside out. Romance, Fat Girl, Anatomy of Hell - all of which have had praise lauded upon them by critics, yet all of which also being metaphorically spit upon by those less inclined to go to the kind of places Breillat tries to take them. Her latest, Bluebeard, though nowhere near the audacious heights of many of her past films, ends up being no different in its overall reception.
The first in a series of fairy tales the filmmaker wants to make (her version of Sleeping Beauty is next on the twisted agenda!) Bluebeard tells the tale of a fourteen year old girl (played with a unique blend of sweet naivety and a knowing Lolita-like sexuality by Lola Creton) given into marriage to the despicable (and quite feared!) titular monster and young bride killer, Bluebeard. A film you will most likely never see Disney attempt, Breillat takes this dark and sinister tale of horror and recreates it in her usual manner of psycho-sexual suddeness. Rivaling Fat Girl in the main character's perverse childlike sexual anxieties (both girls seem to have an unbridled desire to be forced upon, though only one has the nerve - for lack of a better word - to act upon it) and with the filmmaker's usual sense of mood setting trepidation (Breillat's way of filming makes it seem as if the proverbial lid could blow off at any second!) Bluebeard is a deliberately paced, aptly minimalist powder keg just ready to explode - as most of the director's films do come the climax. [06/11/10]