Oscar winner Juliette Binoche gives a powerhouse performance in an intimate and visually stunning portrait of a year in the life of French sculptor, graphic artist and infamous mistress to Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel. Camille Claudel 1915 premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival and has been recognised as mesmerising, and an amplification and a deepening of Bruno Dumont’s existing accomplishments and artistic impact.
The film visits the later years of Camille Claudel’s life, a time at which she was scarred by her struggle to become a successful female artist in the mid-19th century – having coped with moral prejudice, gender-related restrictions in her artistic training and the prevailing male dominance in the Ministry of Fine-Arts and the Salon – and her tumultuous affair with Rodin.
It is a beautifully stark vision of a woman denied her art, as Camille is confined by her family to an asylum on the outskirts of Avignon after having destroyed several of her own works following the end of her relationship with lover Rodin. French auteur Bruno Dumont takes the audience on a journey with Camille as she struggles to adjust to her detainment and awaits a visit from her younger brother, the writer and diplomat Paul Claudel (Jean-Luc Vincent ) who, along with her doctor (Robert Leroy), she is determined to convince of her sanity.
In this role, Binoche gives an excruciatingly honest performance while acting alongside real mentally ill patients – a new approach to method-acting, and a cornerstone of cinema history – as she portrays Camille’s gradual descent into madness.
Camille Claudel 1915 is now available on DVD.