Augustine

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augustineWatching this movie reminded me how slow and uninteresting Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method was a few years back.

French writer/director Alice Winocour’s period piece takes place in 1890s. The title character is played by French pop star Soko, and she’s great in the understated role, as a housemaid who collapses while serving dinner. She has a seizure, leaving one side of her body paralyzed. She’s immediately brought to Pitie-SalpetrierePsychiatric Hospital. Once there, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon, who is good in his role), keeps a watchful eye on her. He has a few women he’s treating for hysteria. He resists crossing the line, even though he’s obviously attracted to her.

This is loosely based on some actual events, and the costumes and use of science seems perfectly done for the time.

The first act was rather intriguing, but things just kept meandering and became more and more tedious. Things were so low-key, I was wondering what was motivating these people. It’s also tough when we’re left to wonder about the condition of these girls, just as the doctors are.

It was interesting when a physician uses an experiment on a female patient late in the movie (which is rather graphic, so I’ll leave out the details). Since we’ve read stories about doctors doing these things back in the day, it’s interesting to see it done and think about how much more advanced medical techniques are these days. Yet they didn’t go far enough and elaborate on that premise.

When it’s all said and done, I’m thinking about how there are some good performances and great set design, all wasted on a rather muddled script.

This only gets 1 star out of 5.

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