For her fifth feature film, Mélanie Laurent adapts the novel by Victoria Mas, “Le Bal des folles”, and carries out her most impressive project, both in substance and in form. To discover on Amazon Prime Video.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
The story of Eugenie, a luminous and passionate young girl at the end of the 19th century. Eugenie has a unique gift: she hears and sees the dead. When her family discovers her secret, she is taken by her father and her brother to the neurological clinic of La Salpêtrière with no possibility of escaping her fate. This clinic, directed by the eminent professor Charcot, one of the pioneers of neurology and psychiatry, welcomes women diagnosed with hysterics, madness, epilepsy and all other types of physical and mental illnesses.
Eugenie’s path will then meet that of Geneviève, a nurse from the neurological unit whose life passes before her eyes without her really living it. Their meeting will change their destinies forever as they prepare to attend the famous “Bal des folles” organized every year by Professor Charcot within the clinic.
Le Bal des folles, written by Mélanie Laurent and Christophe Deslandes, directed by Melanie Laurent.
Available on Amazon Prime Video
WHO IS IT WITH?
Behind but also in front of the camera, Melanie Laurent embodies one of the two main roles of the film, that of Geneviève, nurse at Pitié-Salpêtrière, who will forge a special bond with the new patient. The latter, Eugenie, is played by Lou de Laage. The actress had previously acted under the direction of the director in Breathe, film for which she had been nominated for the César for best female hope. Benjamin Voisin, appeared in Summer 85 by François Ozon, interpreter Théophile, the brother of the heroine. The filmmaker and actress Emmanuelle Bercot plays Jeanne, another nurse, this time more disturbing.
In the secondary roles, Martine Chevallier makes an appearance in the guise of Eugenie’s grandmother. Grégoire Bonnet (The sense of celebration) plays the famous professor Jean-Martin Charcot, as for Laurèna Thellier (Mental, A French affair), Lomane De Dietrich and Coralie Russier (The deer, Mandibles), they play patients admitted to the hospital.
WELL WORTH A LOOK ?
For his fifth feature film as a filmmaker, Melanie Laurent continues its journey through genres. After trying her hand at drama with Breathe or the thriller with Galveston, here she is at the helm of a period film. She thus fulfills one of her cinema fantasies and chooses to adapt the bestseller by Victoria Mas, The Bal des folles. If the history of the book takes place in the 19th century, the themes addressed have never been so topical.
Mélanie Laurent intelligently seizes on this modernity to follow a free and assertive heroine, condemned to confinement because so different from the expectations of society. It retraces, at the same time, the past of those who were nicknamed the “hysterical”, A term still used today to caricature and overwhelm many women. The director delicately recounts the birth of a female friendship which becomes, as the plot progresses, a weapon in the fight against oppression and tyranny.
As if to compensate for the omnipresent violence of the film, Mélanie Laurent makes Pitié-Salpêtrière a place of resurrection where solidarity between patients prevails against the medical abuse of which they are the victims. After Breathe, Lou de La age plays once again under the direction of the filmmaker and delivers one of her finest interpretations. She is surrounded by an equally impressive cast, made up of Emmanuelle Bercot as a nurse who recalls Mrs. Danvers of Hitchcock, Benjamin Voisin as an allied brother and Mélanie Laurent as a secret confidante.
In many ways, The Bal des folles echoes the cinema of Jane Campion and the great period films, in particular Camille Claudel by Bruno Nuytten, a project for which Isabelle Adjani fought to see the light of day. With this fifth film, Mélanie Laurent signs an excellent adaptation of Victoria Mas’ novel. She shines through her direction of actors and infuses an epic dimension to this story while preserving its humanity.
Check out the movie trailer: