Combustive desire shatters lives in writer-director Pierre Godeau’s portrait of a director who falls in love with an inmate in the women’s detention centre he manages.
If the narrative wasn’t based on real-life events it would be difficult to believe just why Jean (Guillaume Gallienne) puts his seemingly good marriage and job on the line for Anna (Adele Exarchopoulos), who is over half his age.
This isn’t just a brief affair: it’s a full-on dangerous obsession. Jean is shackled to his desire and takes bigger and bigger risks to spend time with Anna. He tells complicated lies, snatches moments for sex in her cell and prison IT room and engages in numerous amounts of texting. Meanwhile, Anna plods on with her constricted life in an emotionally volatile prison environment. Of course, she’s very needy and uses her sexuality to command and control Jean.
Gallienne plays Jean straight (a different turn to the comic role in his semi-autobiographical Me, Myself and Mum). Jean is serious yet slightly dead-pan which serves to lighten, a bit, the emotional intensity, saving Eperdument from melodrama. Exarchopoulos plays Anna with the same unbridled passion that we saw in Blue is the Warmest Colour.
An added casting delight is the Eric Rohmer actress Marie Rivière. Rivière is Anna’s mother, a gentle, vulnerable woman who is shackled by her response to her daughter’s imprisonment. At it’s own confined heart, Eperdument is a film about our own private captivities and the land that rests between admiration and obsession, the dangerous territory when we will do anything to meet our needs and not care about the result.
Director: Pierre Godeau (2016)