Welcome to Paris in 1885, when the outcasts - autistic, Down's syndrome, psychics, rape victims ... - were still sent automatically to the Salpêtrière , a large Parisian hospital for women run by the great professor Charcot .
These fates of women to hide were told by Victoria Mas in 2019 in her novelLe bal des folles , now adapted for the screen by Mélanie Laurent and available on September 17 on Amazon Prime Video for her very first French production. And it's a must-see to put #metoo and the history of male domination into perspective.
Immersion in guinea pigs
This romantic plot could have been a true story; the novel is also based on a very documented study. Eugenie, a bourgeois globally misunderstood by her family despite the support of her brother, begins to hear voices. His ability to communicate with spirits moderately pleases his father, who forcibly sends him to La Salpêtrière.
There, she attends in awe the clinical trials carried out on her friends diagnosed with hysterics who are subjected to the worst experimental abuse, from compressing the ovaries with her fists in an ice bath to extended isolation. However, she befriends a few patients and the head nurse, who uses her gifts to talk to her late sister.
All are starting to prepare for the annual ball organized for Mardi Gras, which will soon welcome the great Parisian notables who have come to slam and take advantage of the vulnerability of these “ mad ” banished from society ...
A cast of choice
The subject being difficult (sometimes even to watch), it was necessary to at least actresses and actors of high caliber to pass the pill. The bankable Lou de Laage ( Les innocentes , Respire ) thus gives the reply to Mélanie Laurent herself in the role of the nurse, when Emmanuelle Bercot plays her devilishly sadistic colleague and Grégoire Bonnet plays the brilliant professor Charcot, whose scientific ambitions far exceed compassion.
Special mention for Lomane de Dietrich , just mentioned in the press and who nevertheless probably remains the revelation of the film in the role of Louise, a young patient whose vital optimism is crushed and murdered. Frankly overwhelming.
Available September 17 on Amazon Prime Video