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Mademoiselle de Joncquières

Set in the 18th century, Emmanuel Mouret’s exquisitely mounted Mademoiselle de Joncquières begins as a dramedy of manners, brimming with archly clever bons mots and politely tamped passions. But then things take a darker turn, and the movie becomes all the more enjoyable as elegantly nasty fun with serious mortal stakes.

Poster for the revenge drama Mademoiselle de JoncquièresMadame de La Pommeraye (Cécile de France), a wealthy and attractive widow, has more or less retired from the world to luxuriate in the comforts of her lavish estate. Her long-term houseguest, the Marquis des Arcis (Édouard Baer), is a notorious libertine whose eloquent conversation she treasures, and whose indefatigable attempts at wooing she lightly dismisses. Still, he persists, and finally Madame gives in to her not-so-hidden desire. This, of course, is a big mistake.

For a stretch, Madame feels safe to assume the Marquis is a constant and faithful lover. There comes a point, however, when she feels compelled to test her lover. So she tells him that she feels her passion has burnt out, and fears they have fallen out of love. Naturally, she hopes the Marquis will disagree. Instead, he admits that he shares her appraisal of their relationship – but still wants them to remain good friends while he resumes his rakish ways. She claims to accept the new rules of the game, and he believes her. This, too, is a big mistake.

Madame embarks on a campaign of reprisal using as pawns Madame de Joncquières (Natalia Dontcheva), a once-respectable woman who was seduced, impregnated and abandoned by another amoral womanizer, and her fetching young daughter, the titular Mademoiselle (Alice Isaaz).

Promising the pair enough money to reinvent themselves elsewhere, Madame instructs Mademoiselle to pose as a devoutly religious virgin, the sort of innocent that a rogue like the Marquis cannot resist. And, indeed, the Marquis is instantly smitten, leading to an amusing series of scenes during which he desperately attempts  to capture the fancy of the seemingly virtuous young woman.

Mademoiselle de Joncquières has a number of surprises up its sleeve as it builds to a richly satisfying conclusion. In the central roles of Madame de La Pommeraye and the Marquis des Arcis, de France and Baer are perfectly matched, both as partners and combatants, while Isaaz is achingly credible in her emotional honesty.

– Joe Leydon, Variety


Dans son château au parc idyllique, Madame de La Pommeraye (Cécile de France), riche veuve, promène son apparente sérénité et sa gracieuse élégance pour le plus grand bonheur du marquis des Arcis (Édouard Baer) : après avoir résisté à la cour de ce Casanova, elle lui a cédé.

Quand Madame de La Pommeraye découvre que la flamme de son amant s’est étiolée, elle trame un plan machiavélique afin de punir l’inconstant. Elle s’attache la complicité de deux aventurières, Madame et Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Natalia Dontcheva et Alice Isaaz), pour emprisonner dans leurs filets le marquis qu’aveugle une nouvelle passion. Les immenses yeux bleus « innocents » de la plus jeune annihilent en lui toute raison, jusqu’à lui faire envisager le mariage auquel il était jusque-là résolument hostile. Il est temps pour Madame de La Pommeray de tirer les marrons du feu.

On ne s’étonnera que Emmanuel Mouret, cinéaste aux dialogues très littéraires et aux intrigues fondées sur la subtilité des sentiments, ait choisi l’époque des Lumières pour Mademoiselle de Joncquières, son premier film en costumes. Exaltées par les accents de Bach, Vivaldi et Boieldieu, les images du cinéaste mélomane fleurent bon ce XVIIIe voguant entre nature et culture, morale et libertinage, philosophie et sensibilité.

Si les dialogues se savourent avec délice, les scènes muettes et les ellipses ravissent l’imagination du spectateur. Au fur et à mesure que la vengeance se précise, le film se resserre dans un montage plus nerveux, la fièvre gagne les personnages et le jeu de leurs interprètes. Où est le vrai, où est le faux, l’heur et le malheur, le vice et la vertu, dans notre condition humaine instable et insatisfaite ?

– Emmanuelle Giuliani, La Croix

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