• Mélanie Laurent delivers a very successful adaptation of the eponymous book by Victoria Mas.

  • “Le Bal des folles” shares the experience of a young woman forced into a clinic in the 19th century.

  • Lou de La age and Mélanie Laurent star in a superb film that goes from shadow to light to bewitch the viewer.

Mélanie Laurent has sacred qualities as a director.

Le Bal des folles

, which she adapted from the novel by Victoria Mas (Renaudot prize for high school students 2019), is a gem to discover this Friday on Amazon Prime Video. The young actress Lou de Laage, overwhelming, plays a young woman who claims to be able to communicate with the dead. This resulted in her being forcibly interned at the Salpêtrière, a Parisian clinic where Doctor Charcot (1825-1893) officiated.

"It's more of a women's film than a feminist film," Mélanie Laurent told

20 Minutes

.

It is a story of friendship and the transmission of freedom.

The highlight of the film is the famous ball that gives it its title, an annual event during which good Parisian society came to dance with patients in their Sunday best and watch them like curious animals.

In front of and behind the camera

Lou de La age is constantly just a desperate young girl who learns to flourish in the face of adversity “I had already directed Lou in

Respire

, remembers the director. I see her growing up and she sees me getting old. We observe each other in time and it is very pleasant to go through this artistic life together. The heroine's plunge into hell, forced to undergo humiliating experiences, is counterbalanced by the solidarity she finds in contact with other patients and a nurse, a little psychorigid, embodied by Mélanie Laurent herself.

“In general, I never want to act in my films but it made it easier not to call on someone else both financially and in terms of organization.

I chose this role because I am no longer old enough to play young girls of 24 years old.

I made her as surly as possible to better underline her metamorphosis, ”she explains.

This woman stuck in her time appears severe when her character rules her service, but turns her back on the doctors who send her back to the dirty jobs to which they confine her.

A sorority story

The complicity between the two actresses makes their characters endearing but Mélanie Laurent also captures other touching inmates in this painting of a nightmarish world.

“My film is getting darker and darker before heading back to the light,” she explains.

Often men describe it as a horror movie while women feel it could happen to them much worse.

This fascinating and well-told story is nevertheless joyful in the way it celebrates the sisterhood of women ostracized from society because they disturb the established order.

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What if Lou de La age was the Juliette Binoche of tomorrow?

  • Novel

  • Amazon Prime Video

  • Melanie Laurent

  • Movie theater

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