110 minutes, France, 2012, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

Audrey Tautou shows what a great actress she’s become with a quite mesmerising take on novelist François Mauriac’s confounding anti-heroine in this atmospheric adaptation, the final film from much-admired director Claude Miller (The Little Thief, A Secret).

Born into old stock in the Landes region, Thérèse is destined to marry Gilles Lellouche’s Bernard, amiable but conventional scion of neighbouring landowners. It’s to prove a suffocating experience however, for someone of such fiercely independent mind, and Thérèse’s subsequent behaviour towards her husband and her bosom-pal sister-in-law (Anaïs Demoustier) will both scandalise polite society and put compassionate understanding to the test. Miller’s take on the story delivers a more conventional time-line than the original book, yet the linear approach keeps us effectively ensnared in Tautou’s dark spell, fascinated by a woman who’s both class insurgent and in thrall to implacable inner demons. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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