This French film takes place in the 1920’s. It opens with 2 young girls (who look about 12/13) who are best friends. Therese and Anne. About 8 years past and suddenly the girls look like completely different people, that’s because they’re played by different actresses. Therese looks like she’s aged about 25 years (because Audrey Tautou, who plays her, is in her mid-30’s) and Anne looks like she’s aged only 8. Anyway, Therese marries Anne’s brother Bernard for business purposes (to merge their properties). At first, their marriage is simple, but Therese wants more. Especially when Anne falls for a passionate Portuguese drifter. Therese is also interested in him, and he appears to be attracted to her too. But then the movie completely forgets about this and focuses on how miserable Therese is and her attempts at poisoning her husband. What should have been only a plot point results in taking up the rest of the running time. And Anne basically disappears from the film too.
As you might have guessed from the above paragraph. I didn’t care for this at all. The story being the major issue. It can’t decide what it wants to be about. Is it about Therese and Anne? Nope! Is it about Therese taking her boyfriend from her? Nope! Is it about Therese finding herself? Nope! Instead, the film just dances around all of these potentially engaging premises and just shows scenes of Therese looking stone faced while her husband has sex with her. Awwww.. Poor Therese. Phooey! It would be one thing if this character was interesting, but she couldn’t be more boring. I can’t really tell you one character trait about her other than the fact that she likes to read sometimes.
The worst part about the story being a bore is all the wasted talent. Audrey Tautou, who will always be known as Amelie, is a fine actress and does what she can with an empty shell of a character, but acting emotionless wasn’t the way to approach the character, I think. Gilles Lellouche shows potential as Bernard, but I’ve seen this type of character so many times that it just became boring and predictable. Anais Demoustier as Anne does display some emotion and passion but her character is criminally under written.
I can say one nice thing about this movie… and that’s the art direction and costume design is perfect. The filmmakers have authentically captured the time period. Also, the direction by the late Claude Miller is solid. He certainly knows how to make things look extravagant. Unfortunately, without an engaging story or interesting characters, all of the filmmakers hard work becomes moot. This movie is a slog to sit through. THERESE is the type of French period melodrama that scares the common moviegoer from watching anything with subtitles. With no real focus or intriguing characters, this movie is a chore. ★½ (out of ★★★★)
– Not Rated but contains a sex scene under the covers. Would most likely be PG13.
– Running Time: 1hr 49min.