The Disenchanted

In the 1995 film A Single Girl, writer-director Benoît Jacquot skillfully conveyed the complicated psychological state of his title character simply by following her through the activities of one especially eventful day. In the 1990 film The Disenchanted, just released on video, Jacquot performs something of the same trick with a younger protagonist. Instead of the twentysomething waitress played by Virginie Ledoyen in A Single Girl, Judith Godreche (The Man In The Iron Mask) stars as a 17-year-old Parisian high-school student in charge of caring for both her ailing mother and her younger brother. When her boorish boyfriend jokingly suggests she sleep with the ugliest man she can find, Godreche announces she intends to do just that, not suspecting that her half-hearted search will lead to larger revelations about her life. Understated and crafted in a way that fills each detail with enormous significance, Jacquot's film—helped enormously by Godreche's ability to convey volumes with her sad, tired eyes—nicely captures its subject's life without resorting to the sort of explicit statements that would cause its delicate structure to collapse. It provides another reason to view Jacquot as one of the most compelling French directors to surface in recent years.

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