Claude Miller’s last film, La Classe de Neige (Class Trip), opened the last Dublin French Film Festival and led to a retrospective of this underrated director’s work at the IFC. Known for his classical style of filmmaking and a rare ability to capture the highly subjective mind-sets of his protagonists, Miller has changed tack with this new work. Shot with small digital cameras, La Chambre des Magiciennes is an intense yet elliptical and often blackly humorous psychological drama about a mature student (brilliantly played by Anne Brochet) who becomes overwhelmed with anxieties and is admitted by her doctor to a hospital neurology department. The film tells of Claire’s month in hospital and how her encounters with two other female patients (a no-nonsense working-class girl who is paralysed in both legs, and an old woman in the early stages of dementia) help her to recover. The freedom and flexibility of digital filmmaking is used by Miller to mix objective and subjective viewpoints as he attempts to capture how reality gets bent out of shape with the onslaught of illness.
Dolby digital stereo.