(AFP) – With “Le Bal des folles”, adaptation of the book by Victoria Mas, Renaudot prize for high school students 2019 on the beginnings of psychiatry in the 19th century, the actress and director Mélanie Laurent signs in front and behind the camera her sixth feature film, the first French production of the global Amazon Original platform.
Online from Friday for world release, this costume film, served by careful historical reconstructions, tells the story of Eugenie (Lou de Laage), a young woman of the Parisian upper bourgeoisie.
Learning that she communicates with spirits, her father decides to have her interned at La Salpêtrière, a large Parisian hospital run at the time by Professor Charcot, one of the pioneers of neurology and psychiatry. Its clinical research department welcomes women diagnosed with insanity, hysterics or simply epilepsy.
Eugénie crosses paths with Geneviève (Mélanie Laurent), the head nurse, who is not recovering not the death of his sister. The meeting of the two women will upset their destiny forever, a few weeks before the “Bal des folles”, a social gathering organized by Professor Charcot within La Salpêtrière and where the whole of Paris comes to slam each year.
Emmanuelle Bercot, in the role of another caregiver with sadistic behavior, Benjamin Voisin, Grégoire Bonnet and Lomane de Dietrich complete the cast of this film shot in natural settings in the former Marine Hospital of Rochefort (Charente-Maritime).
“I wanted to make a film on medieval witches, a period film with a subject that does not not just a feminist. I discovered Victoria Mas’ book which had it all. The story and the characters moved me. I was fascinated by this patriarchal society of the 19th century, which cut itself off from so many interned women by force, often for no real reason, “said Mélanie Laurent during a meeting with the press.
” I wondered for a long time how to approach this historical drama. What interested me was the balance of power. This army of dominated women, facing a few dominant women, themselves dominated by other men … “, adds the actress and director, César 2007 of best female hope and César 2016 for best documentary for “Demain”, a manifesto on environmental protection.
For Mélanie Laurent, “the subject is topical because always, the man put aside what he did not understand, what repelled him, what disgusted him”.
“Les Folles de La Salpêtrière are only the mothers of today’s rejects. And that’s why we had to bring them back to life, “she adds.” It’s the kind of film you want to travel for. With Amazon, the film is released in 240 countries on the same day “.