Combustible Celluloid
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With: Asia Argento, Fu'ad Aït Aattouto, Roxane Mesquida, Claude Sarraute, Yolande Moreau, Michael Lonsdale, Anne Parillaud
Written by: Catherine Breillat, based on a novel by Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly
Directed by: Catherine Breillat
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 114
Date: 05/25/2007

The Last Mistress (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Affair Beware

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Catherine Breillat turns in a relatively normal film for once, although a shot of Asia Argento licking the gunshot wounds of her beloved and emerging bloodied and screaming may evoke earlier Breillat works. Asia stars as Vellini, the longtime mistress of Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou). Ryno decides to break up with her, go legit and marry blonde Hermangarde (Roxane Mesquida). He narrates his entire illicit history to Hermangarde's grandmother, Marquise de Flers (Claude Sarraute), coming clean as it were, before the wedding. But Vellini's lusty clutches may be too much for Ryno, even in wedlock (marriage vows obviously didn't mean much when Vellini was married and Ryno pursued her). Believe it or not, Breillat paints a vivid and affecting portrait of this unhealthy, irresistible sexual obsession, sprinkled with observances from proper society folks outside the loop, especially Ms. Sarraute. She gives a delightful performance, drapiner her leg over one side of a chair while listening to Ryno's tale of lust. Argento is at her best, a lithe creature closer to a jungle cat than a proper lady. (She speaks fluent French, and holds her own with the rest of the cast.)

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