Archive of films A Woman’s Life / Une vie

France / Belgium
2016, 119 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2017

Normandy 1819. Educated in a convent, young adult Jeanne is happy to marry a country nobleman, but when things go south she is unable to properly respond to his brutality and infidelity. Her disenchantment gradually transforms into the loss of illusion, but even as she grows older Jeanne fails to learn to fight. Stéphane Brizé’s excellent adaptation of the Guy de Maupassant novel competed last year at Venice, winning a FIPRESCI Prize.


Normandy 1819. After finishing school at a convent and with her childhood ideas still intact, Jeanne returns to her family at their country château. Heeding their counsel, she marries a local viscount and believes she will grow to love him. Soon enough, however, her husband reveals himself to be a brazen cheat and a brute, and gradually Jeanne’s innocent illusions give way to harsh reality. She concentrates her affection on her beloved son but disappointment is once again all that awaits her. In their adaptation of the novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant, the filmmakers succeed in capturing the milieu of France’s rural nobility after the return of the Bourbons, but their true talent lies in employing concision and uncommon sensitivity to create a portrait of a young woman on the threshold of adulthood whose ideals are subsequently dashed. Naïve and immature, Jeanne is at a loss how to adapt her notions of life’s values to the vicious relationships she encounters. Rebellion is so foreign to her nature that she remains pure even amid misery and humiliation. The director found an ideal interpreter for the role of Jeanne in Judith Chemla, a stage actor who usually appears in movies in supporting roles.

Eva Zaoralová

About the director

Stéphane Brizé (b. 1966, Rennes, France) is a screenwriter, director, actor, and producer. He previously worked as a technician in television, studied acting, and took up theater direction. In 1993 he shot the short Bleu dommage, followed by the medium-length picture L’oeil qui traîne (1996). In 1999 his feature debut Hometown Blue (Le bleu des villes) was awarded at the fests in Deauville and Namur. In subsequent features as well he displayed an interest in emotional, interpersonal, and social problems: Not Here to Be Loved (Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé, 2005), Among Adults (Entre adultes, 2006), Mademoiselle Chambon (2009 – César for Best Adaptation), A Few Hours of Spring (Quelques heures de printemps, 2012), The Measure of a Man (La loi du marché, 2015 – Horizons at KVIFF 2015) and A Woman’s Life (2016).


55, rue Traversière, 75012, Paris
Tel: +33 144 673 111
Fax: +33 143 072 963

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Horizons
Director: Stéphane Brizé
Screenplay: Stéphane Brizé, Florence Vignon podle stejnojmenného románu / based on the novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant
Dir. of Photography: Antoine Héberlé
Music: Olivier Baumont
Editor: Anne Klotz
Art Director: Valérie Saradjian
Producer: Miléna Poylo, Gilles Sacuto
Production: TS Productions
Coproduction: France 3 Cinéma, Versus production, F comme Film, CN5 Productions
Cast: Judith Chemla, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Swann Arlaud, Yolande Moreau
Sales: MK2

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