Director Bruno Dumont’s Golden Bear nominated film is somewhat based on true events and is a masterclass of studied austerity.
It stars Juliette Binoche as the titular sculptor turned committed psychiatric patient, focusing on her early years at an asylum in Montdevergues, following claims that her husband, the sculpter Auguste Rodin had tried to kill her. The script, credited to Dumont, is mostly based on improvisation after Binoche studied Camille’s letters to her brother, the renowned poet and devout Catholic Paul Claudel.
Binoche brings great intensity to a few standout monologue sequences, which Dumont treats with the utmost respect by not allowing for a single cut to break her performance.
For greater authenticity Dumont decided to cast patients to play themselves in the film, and the sisters caring for them were their real-life nurses. Binoche’s performance – an arid, frail and anguished portrait of a woman under emotional duress – is wonderful.