Mademoiselle (1966)

Mademoiselle (1966), directed by Tony Richardson.

We get right to it, with spooky-eyed Jeanne Moreau opening the sluice gate and flooding a farm in a remote French village. We learn that she has been setting fires and later see her poisoning the water. No one knows who is committing these awful crimes and the whole town is going nuts with suspicion and paranoia.

We might suspect she has reasons for revenge, but then we see her crushing birds eggs with delight and realize she is psychotic. In what way, and is there a "why"? She is a schoolteacher and secretary at the town hall and is called "Miss" as a title of respect. She seems to have mingled desire and loathing for an Italian woodcutter and his son, which is very bad for them.

It goes into strange places: art film, horror story, erotic thriller. Our questions are not answered.

I got this because Richard Lester described it as the most beautiful black and white film he had ever seen. It was photographed by his usual cinematographer, David Watkin.

From a story by Jean Genet, screenplay by Marguerite Duras.

Available on DVD in an old nonanamorphic 4:3 letterboxed edition. This is terrible treatment for a scope ratio film, especially for one with such fine cinematography.