Therese: Audrey Tautou Admires Her Own Lust

Thérèse 2001's Amelie wasn't Audrey Tautou's first film, and she's worked steadily since then, but that megawatt smile she displayed has continued to inform her persona – especially when it's absent, as it is through much of her title role in Claude Miller's Thérèse. Set in France in the late 1920s, Thérèse is a young woman (early 20s at most – younger even than Tautou was when she played Amelie, but she pulls it off), stuck in a boring marriage to her best friend Anne's brother Bernard (Gilles Lellouche). Admiring Anne's (Anaïs Demoustier) open-yet-forbidden lust for a hunky Portuguese Jew named Jean (Stan Weber), Thérèse starts taking steps to free herself form the bonds of matrimony, taking advantage of Bernard's culturally ingrained fear of disease. Tautou does dark very well (see also Dirty Pretty Things and He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not), and her performance here is ice-cold, as terrifying and heartbreaking as her smile can be warm and inviting. Thérèse goes in unexpected directions in its third act (unexpected to anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the 1962 movie, at least), and the character of Bernard is given a surprising amount of depth. But Thérèse is Tautou's show, and director Miller knows just when to unleash that smile – if at all.

 
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