One of the best films from the “J’adore! Focus on French Language Film” Festival returns to Denver today with a full week of showtimes.
In honor of the film’s return, here’s a reprise of my review:
Dark, Twisted, Sensual, Psychological, Drama, Coming-of-Age, Mature-Content
Augustine is a haunting look at the spectacle of illness and the psychology of obsession, both of the voyeur and his object. It explores the twisted world of mental hospitals in the late 1800s, at a time when female hysteria was the popular and mysterious illness du jour. Nineteen-year-old Augustine suffers a seizure and winds up at an all-female mental institution, the principal patient of Dr. Charcot.
Augustine is thrown into this strange new environment where the societal structures are even more male-dominated than those on the exterior. At first nervous, Augustine eventually learns to navigate her new milieu and all bets are off. The lines between doctor and patient – voyeur and object – controller and controlled all become blurred in this dark sensual narrative.
SPOILERS BELOW IN ITALICS
The film’s culmination is particularly intriguing. Augustine’s cure raises questions about the nature of accomplishment, both in medicine and an in any field. Augustine reminds us of accomplishment’s duality: part success part loss. Both Augustine and Charcot suffer from the sadness of her treatment’s completion despite the completion being the initial aspiration, the benchmark of success.
This sadness resurfaces following their final tryst. After all the sensual tension and build-up, the ultimate fulfillment of their desires seems to only bring devastation once it is over.
The film is a must-watch for anyone interested in medicine or psychology, and a truly fascinating narrative for anyone interested in feminism, history, or coming of age stories.
Augustine is not the only exciting thing happening at the film center this week, though. Denver’s film scene is 7 days away from their Kickstarter campaign goal of $150,000 to fund digital projectors for the theater.
Where are your favorite places to catch French film? Have you seen Augustine? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!