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3.8 out of 5 stars28
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 July 2011
It is by no means a spoiler to mention that this film is based on a notorious French murder case, since a palpable sense of impending catastrophe looms over the production right from the off. Two heavily-repressed sisters (Joely Richardson & Jodhi May) are engaged as maids at the terminally-disfunctional household of Julie Walters and her daughter Sophie Thursfield. Relentlessly hectored and bullied, the sisters' mutual dependency soon evolves into an intense, obsessional relationship that they struggle to keep concealed. Director Nancy Meckler plays the claustrophobic atmosphere of the house for all its worth, but the film stands on the performances of the cast, all of whom are excellent: Richardson as the ice-maiden desperately clinging to the remnants of her self-control; May as the naive, trusting, perpetually-terrified waif; and Walters, playing "Madame" like a borderline-psychotic version of an archetypal 'Wood & Walters' character (and utterly terrifying with it). But it's Thursfield who steals the show, as the dumpy, distinctly ineligible daughter who realises full well that she and her mother are just as trapped as the luckless sisters. By no means an easy watch, but a film to haunt you long after the closing credits have rolled.
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on 9 February 2012
I thought this was going to be slow, but once I got into it I was very impressed. Fantastic acting by Julie Walters and co and the fact that it is based on a true story. All four main characters are complex and eccentric. Watch it for yourself and see 4 excellent actresses in action.
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on 7 August 2008
To make it short, this is not a horror movie. It's a drama and a thriller. A movie which builds up the tension into a climax that leaves you speechles and thinking. Just like "Heavenly Creatures". The actors are above brilliant, the directing is superb. The dialogues intense. It is based on the Papin murder case which took place in France, 1933. Two sisters brutally murdered their employer and her daughter in intense rage.

Since the two sisters become alienated from their surrounding world they have only each other to turn to. The harsh words and mischief from their employer make them flee ito an incestious relationship. The outcome leads to the above mentioned crime. This movie certainly deserved a bigger release with more advertising. Unfortunately it remains an independent release on a small label. Joely Richardson later starred in "Event Horizon" by the way.
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on 2 September 2015
The titles tell the story of a tragedy exacerbated by circumstance. The grim reality of a mistress/servant relationship is depicted in an atmosphere of claustrophobia and social repression as the audience is taken on a slow trip to Hell.

Two sisters, brought up in a nunnery when their mother decided she did not want to be troubled with their upbringing, are split up when the older one leaves, leaving the younger one, Lea, alone. Later on, the older sister has found work in service in a household of Madam Danzard and her daughter,Isabelle. She takes Lea out of the convent and finds her a job too as maids. Madam Danzard is an exacting employer, running her fingers over the furniture to ensure it is dust free. The sisters/maids do everything in the household, cooking,cleaning,dressmaking. They live together in a room at the top of the stairs in a world set apart. This separation eventually leads to what was probably an incestuous passion.

When the cracks in the service begin to get more obvious, Madame Danzard and her frumpy daughter change the relationship which becomes mutually cold. The sisters want to protect one another as their own relationshp has become more than familial love leading to a terrific,but inevitable climax.

The playing is superb, especially Julie Walters who reins in her histrionics,and the camerawork composed of tracking shots from above using the stairs and bannisters to underline the repressive atmosphere of the huge house. It is as if the house becomes a prison for them all. The two sets of women eventually split, their only connection being the actual service the sisters provide. They have decided to live their own lives beginning with refusing to see their mother to hand over their wages and spending time together instead. They save their money and buy or make clothes which servants just don't wear at their station in life. The class system was that rigid.

Although a possible connection between Sister Veronica and the younger Lea was not really developed, it is obvious that both sisters only wanted love which, they found, they could only give each other. This was a tragic tale, gripping and absorbing.
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on 12 November 2010
Based on a play, this feels quite theatrical: it more-or-less has only four speaking parts and is set almost entirely in one house - which on film lends it a real claustrophobia and intimacy. Based on a real case where two maids brutally murdered their employers, the four actresses are fantastic - Joely Richardson has rarely been better; Jodhi May brings her trade-mark emotional intensity, and even Sophie Thursfield (who?!) is perfect as Julie Walters' daughter. Most reviews at the time criticised the "graphically brutal" scene of violence at the end - but in fact, shot by shot, there is none shown: the criticisms were testament to how tautly the film winds up your nerves and plays on your imagination. Haunting.
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on 23 May 2014
Even the fabulous Julie Walters cannot save this story, which although not terrible, is really not up to much. A bit too dark, and more than a little boring, I judge my movies by whether or not I would ever watch them again, or keep them in my DVD library. This one is going straight out to Magpie. I do love Julie Walters though and would watch anything that she appears in. Unfortunately in this case, only once.
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on 8 October 2014
...Well the picture quality and sound are pretty good....could be better for a dvd but this is the only release I could find available which I could buy when I bought this one. There is another release which is no better if you can locate one 4 sale. So if you don't have to pay a premium (over 15 bucks) this is a good buy considering.
...The movie in all respects is excellent. The story is real but exactly what happened is not really known. This and at least one other movie give significantly different story-lines but the idea of the sisters developing the incestuous relationship which is portrayed in this particular movie seems a likely lead-into the horrible details of the crime....you'd have to watch it to see what I mean.
...I hope it may eventually be released in true Blu-ray ...and would likely buy it again if that happened.
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on 20 November 2007
Plot
Christine (Joely Richardson) is the maid of a well-to-do widow (Julie Walters) and her daughter (Sophie Thursfield). Her sister, Lea (Jodhi May) is hired on the recommendation of Christine. The two sisters become increasingly alienated from their employer, separated by barriers between the classes. With only each other to turn to and Christine experiencing much jealousy as to her sister's interest in anyone else, the relationship becomes sexual, adding to the tension between the sisters and their employer, ultimately leading to paranoia, repressed rage and murder.

Product Description
A true story of shocking violence catapults a picturesque little town into history. Julie Walters stars as the head of a perfectly respectable household that is not what it seems. The close sibling relationship between the two maids takes on a new dimension as Walters discovers a sexual fever between the two sisters. The tensions reach the breaking point in a film you'll find both beautiful and horrifying.
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on 15 November 2013
what can i say , this film was awful but i loved it, mainly because julie waters, that woman could act out the phone book and make it absorbing drama.the film itself is based on a true story, but if you read up the case, in fact its nothing like it. i found it depressing, slow, and deep and dark... but hey ho i loved it anyway. i dont want to recommend it, because i dont want to give the impression it s great. but at such a cheap price for the DVD its worthing forking out and making your own mind up!
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on 30 August 2014
an interesting story (apparently true) of incest and lesbianism, leading ultimately to madness and murder. the sex scenes are too brief to excite fans of erotica, and the story makes for a gloomy downbeat viewing experience
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