There’s something quietly poignant yet indulgent about Christophe Honoré’s La Belle Personne, loosely translated as The Beautiful Person. Maybe its Léa Seydoux embodying the mysteriously beautiful Junie, maybe its the not-quite love-story about love. This 2008 French television film is loosely adapted from 17th Centuries french novel La Princesse de Cléves by Madamme de Lafayette, is updated into the modern campus life of french students.
Young and beautiful Junie de Chartres (Léa Seydoux) is a new student at school. She quickly adopted into a clique along by her cousin Matthias de Chartres (Esteban Carvajal-Alegria). Her alabaster skin is flawless, her brunette hair is thick, her pouted lips and rosy cheeks, she walks among them in her quiet, enigmatic beauty. Her classmate eternalized her beauty through his Lubitel lens. She became an object of desire of many, enamoured her fellow friend Otto (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) and her italian language teacher-cum-lothario Mr. Nemours (Louis Garrel).
Junie is insecure. She welcomes and resents the attention she got from both Otto and Nemours. Both male fascinations to Junie are different, Otto is a wide-eyed and sweet romantic, while Nemours are hungry and passionate. Otto approached Junie from the very beginning, pledging his love and devotion, to which Junie questioned whether his motif is solely based on claiming her as his possessions or as an ownership. Nemours, who decided to ended his affairs with his previous flings (a teacher and another student) was wildly infatuated by Junie, but kept getting brushed off. Junie is the physical embodiment of the overall mood of the film. Behind the facade of her unmarred beauty and seemingly pure white wardrobe she wore, we can see the hidden and troubled past lurking just beneath the skin behind her blank, empty stares. Just like the numerous problems and secrets that students of the Lycée shared among themselves, behind their tall willowy stature, their hairs, their layered knitwears, their youths.
I have to say, there were so many events that i just did not understand the driving motivations behind it. What made Junie shies away from her surroundings and did not dare to speak her true feelings out loud. Is she just lonely? I did not quite grasp the logic behind her character decision. I take that she has a problem with love and loving, almost like she is incapable or not knowing how to love. Which made the character a little more tragic in a way. Yet stories about how people perceive love is always a fascinating subject for me. Just like when Junie misunderstood the content of the letter, i feel like she got hit by a huge emotional wave that she just did not know how to handle.
“I love you too much to let you think I can live without you. I don’t care if you cheat on me as long as you are honest and tell me. I don’t care if you hide me away as long as you come to find me again. I am patient. And while I await you i will recall your whole body . I’m even in love with your knees.”
Overall i am caught in the middle between wanting more or feel it’s too indulgent. If anything, the film is beautifully captured for a television film. I love the long tracking shot as Junie and Matthias walk on the streets of Paris (basically reminds me of flâneur in films). The subtle emotion might made the film slightly underwhelming. I enjoyed the film and can’t help but admire the gorgeous casts. It was a good film to watch when you’re sick in bed and have nothing else to do :3
LA BELLE PERSONNE (2008)
DIRECTOR Christophe Honoré | WRITER Christophe Honoré, Gilles Taurand| MUSIC Alex Beaupain | CINEMATOGRAPHER Laurent Brunet | EDITOR Chantal Hymans | STUDIO Arte France, Scarlett Production | COUNTRY France | RELEASE March 6, 2009 (USA) | RUNNING TIME 97 Minutes
STARRING Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Esteban Carvajal Alegria, Anaïs Demoustier, Agathe Bonitzer, Simon Truxillo, Jacob Lyon, Tanel Derard.