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aka - Poison Violent, Un
France 2010
Directed by
Katell Quillévéré
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Love Like Poison

Although the significance of the title (apparently based on a Serge Gainsbourg song) of this film eludes me, co-writer and debut feature director Katell Quillévéré has delivered a telling account of the mingling of  sexual and spiritual ardour.  It tells the story of Anna (Clara Augarde), a 14-year-old girl who has returned from boarding school to stay with her with her mother, Jeannette (Lio), for the summer in the French countryside. The latter is estranged from Anna’s father (Thierry Neuvic) but is looking after his dying father (Michel Galabru). Anna is about to make her confirmation but is both beginning to awaken sexually and to doubt her faith, whilst her mother is not only having her own spiritual crisis but is feeling drawn towards the handsome young parish priest (Stefano Cassetti) who is suffering from the pangs of temptation..

This plot summary might sound like the stuff of melodrama but the beauty of Quillévéré’s film is that it is so restrained, the director telling her story more as a series of lightly connected entirely mundane episodes that reveal the inner life of each of her characters, allowing the imagery she creates to tell us everything about them. Such finesse is a remarkable achievement.

With excellent performances for the entire cast and particularly Augarde in her film debut and Michel Galabru as her unrepentantly anti-clerical grandfather, an excellent use of music, both within the narrative and as a sound track, and a lovely French provincial setting Un Poison Violent will do you no harm.

DVD Extras: None

Available from: Madman




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