This film is a character study of the mysteries of several lives. It is fiction, based on a true to life case of a young French woman who said she had been attacked on a train by neo-Nazi antisemites. After a bit she confessed she had made the whole thing up. It seems it is much easier to tell a lie than to maintain it.
Emilie Dequenne is Jeanne, who lives in the outskirts of Paris and is looking for a job as a secretary. Her mother Louise, played by Catherine Deneuve, cares for children. Louise understands the resumes written by Jeanne are full of spelling errors and badly written. But, Jeanne is independent and wants to find a job on her own. Her daily life consists of rollerblading and we are led to this exercise throughout the film. On one occasion, Jeanne meets a young tough man who is a wrestler.. They move in together and under secretive circumstances make a living. Jeanne is treated badly by this young man and left to find her own way. She is emotionally unable to handle the rejection and makes a tragic mistake.
The film is divided into two parts, circumstances and consequences, each has overlapping characters and themes. The first half describes Jeanne's relationship with her mother and her young man. The second half shows us a Jewish family, the Bleisteins. They become part of the story, as a background into Louise's young life. Mr. Bleistein is a lawyer and had a crush on Louise when she was a young married woman. Louise involves the family when she needs legal assistance for Jeanne. The Bleisteins are a complex, Jewish family with issues of their own. But they are helpful to Jeanne and Louise and in the process come to understand themselves a little more fully.
This is a film of psychological trauma and how we deal with our lot in life. The people who love us and those who care. As Jeanne said after she admitted lying, "I wanted my parents to take care of me, my boyfriend to take care of me." Her solution was to find a scapegoat that French officials could embrace even as they gave her the attention she so clearly craved." Guardian UK
Recommended. prisrob 06-06-10
Belle de Jour