"The Bronte Sisters" Have Never Been Frencher Review

You must publish that poem. You must!

Representing the writing process is notoriously difficult. Writing is an internal event that takes time and, to an outside observer, is quite boring. That is the kind of thing you’d find in a "how-to" book on screenwriting. After seeing Les soeurs Brontë (1979) (The Brontë Sisters), one might have a small pause before agreeing. Director André Téchiné (with Pascal Bonitzer and Jean Gruault) approached the task by performing scenes from the authors’ lives that find their way into the famous novels (much like Shakespeare In Love (1998)). Emily (Isabelle Adjani), Charlotte (Marie-France Pisier), and Anne (Isabelle Huppert) all wrote about brooding, quiet lives in the cold, hard north of England.

Romance burned inside them possibly to keep out the nasty winds coming off the heath. But it was almost all in their imagination or culled from the life of their far-less accomplished (but thoroughly chaotic) brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory). But when it came to the actual writing process, all we get is the three sisters passing page after page around and the title page of their manuscripts (all released in 1847). So, to sum up, we have three women who live very boring lives but write very romantic novels and the movie focuses on their lives, what conclusion should we draw?

The Cohen Film Collection have released a Blu-ray edition of Les soeurs Brontë as one of its “Classics of French Cinema” and it is very, absolutely French. Téchiné is technically accomplished and his beautiful camera work is shockingly well remastered on this Blu-ray. The dialogue and the acting, however, approaches self-parody with poetically loaded lines spat out in dully read French. It isn't entirely silly, this is impressionism, not expressionism, so Les soeurs Brontë does provide some dramatic range, but when a character falls into a romantic rage, they do tend to swoon. Téchiné uses contemporary (classical) music as the soundtrack and no one can have a problem with Rossini (except, perhaps, to question how much it was the soundtrack to the lives of the actual Brontë sisters).

Blu-ray Bonus Features

An hour-long featurette (in French) with director, screenwriter and others speaking about the Brontës and the film, an audio commentary, and trailers for the original release and the 2013 re-release.

"The Brontë Sisters" is on sale July 30, 2013 and is rated . Drama. Directed by Andre Techine. Written by André Téchiné, Pascal Bonitzer, Jean Gruault. Starring Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Huppert, Marie France Pisier, Pascal Greggory.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


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