Review

  • The familiar line dividing creativity and madness narrows and disappears in this downbeat but dramatic biography of the 19th century sculptress, who after meeting Auguste Rodin went from apprentice to mistress to madwoman, driven to the asylum and professional obscurity by her inability to escape from under the shadow of her celebrated lover. Isabelle Adjani gives the title character a headstrong, stubborn vitality that turns electrifying as she loses her sanity; in contrast, Rodin (pronounced by an associate "the biggest lecher since Victor Hugo") fades into the background clay, and not even the reliable Gerard Depardieu can flesh out the underwritten role. The film is beautifully produced, and even at such a punishing length (almost two and a half hours) the pace never flags. It moves twice as quickly as any film half its length, using a brisk, hopscotch style that almost seems rushed trying to get all the facts in.