La femme publique (1984)

  |  Drama

La femme publique (1984) Poster

An unexperienced young actress is invited to play a role in a film based on Dostoyevsky's 'The Possessed'. The film director, a Czech immigrant in Paris, takes over her life, and in a short... See full summary »



  • Valérie Kaprisky and Lambert Wilson in La femme publique (1984)
  • Francis Huster in La femme publique (1984)
  • Valérie Kaprisky in La femme publique (1984)
  • Francis Huster and Lambert Wilson in La femme publique (1984)
  • Francis Huster and Valérie Kaprisky in La femme publique (1984)
  • Valérie Kaprisky in La femme publique (1984)

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18 June 2017 | guedesnino
| "La femme publique" does not allow traces of subtlety.
"La femme publique" does not allow traces of subtlety. In fact, in fantasy or in the mixture between these two poles, everything is said or shown in excesses.

To the unsuspecting, it is the warning: the work of the Polish director Andrzej Żuławski is neither rest nor invitation to the contemplative gaze, nor does it want to be analytical. It allows, however, many reflections and moments of pure poetry, but its main characteristic is the disturbing, provocative, rebellious and critical figure about life and consequently about man.

"La femme publique" was made in 1984 with inspiration from the novel "Demons" by Dostoevsky. Scenes of this same healthy play used in a film that is being made within the film itself or what would be the main story "La femme ..." this use of metalanguage, which often complicates the understanding of the work, yields, in Counterpart, a valuable game that even equates the audience with the protagonist of the story, the dizzying Ethel (Valérie Kaprisky).

She equates in the sense that Ethel is a young aspiring actress who can not differentiate acting and reality, to the point of assuming the figure of a dead woman whose murderer is the abusive and displaced director Lucas Kesling (Francis Huster), add to this plot the A figure of Milan (Lambert Wilson), a Czech immigrant who is manipulated by the filmmaker (Lucas) to commit a political assassination. Among these three characters that form a love triangle that is never realized or wanted to be performed, we accompany the fears, insanities, challenges and impulses as archetypes of a fictional world mirrored to the real.

At various moments in the film, we feel as if we are as lost as Ethel, and as his character, there is no one who can give us hands, on the contrary, whenever someone arises we are attacked either verbally or physically, which establishes A very crazy game that makes us embarrassed, because when this game is fictional (that is being shot during the main movie) such aggressions are even well received, but when they reveal themselves in the reality of the lives of those actors, human beings, it is an aggression Even though there is a strong backing that we are watching a performance within the other, but again, as it is mirrored in real life, it is a madness and aggression common to human life.

Whether it's a recording set, a movie day, or the end of the movie, where actors like a theater revere the public's applause. In all these moments that mix reality and fiction, the palette of tones used in "La femme publique" does not allow traces of subtlety. In fact, in fantasy or in the mixture between these two poles, everything is said or shown in excesses. Because the traits are so gross, the moments of failure and the uncertainty of which world we are, soften this drama. It is interesting to note the theatrical references that accompany the director Andrzej Żuławsk, not only of theatrical authors, but in reference to theatricals like Brecht, with his political theater with ruptures and fragmentation of the scenes, besides the "I" narrator where the figure of the actor is Sometimes the intermediary of the author's ideas. Another theatrical reference is by Antonin Artaud is his theater of cruelty, where the actors look for in real situations and emotions to bring them and to revive them in the stage, like the young actress Ethel of the film, however, that is lost when mixing Reality and fiction.

Although relatively narrow, Zuławski weaves his own tale of political violence with Dostoyevsky. Kesling explains that he wants to adapt the novel because it is "a prophetic tale about those who try to change the world through violence," and strangely it becomes the incarnation of Stavrogin and Verkhovensky. Zuławski selects key scenes from "Demons" to include as the film within a movie and most of them have to do with political content. The scene at one of Verkhovensky's meetings is brilliantly filmed as a sweaty game on an indoor tennis court, where it is stated that "murder, blackmail, extortion, bombs" will be added to his agenda, and a list of people to be killed must Be drafted immediately.

The camera in the films of Żuławski is chained in scenes, advancing in the arrows and actively seeking the actors, most scenes of "Femme Publique" is struck by low and daring angles that make Kaprisky a species of totemic goddess or a lost soul in means To vertiginous and cavernous European buildings, spiral staircases and dilapidated columns. But this is also his most sumptuous film in terms of lighting, courtesy of the celebrated director of photography Sacha Vierny.

No longer the acting of the actors is the height of the film, but Valérie Kaprisky with its Ethel dominate the scene. If at the beginning of the film we have the young actress with lots of magazines of famous actors, the same happens with the consecration, even if fantastical of Ethel, stamping another pile of magazines, becoming the actress and woman publishes. Ethel's eroticism, through her body, her dance and her beauty, which is eternalized in this film and will surely be in the public's memory for a long time.

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