Movie Review: The right director takes the wrong approach for Diary Of A Chambermaid

Suffering from a bad case of “too few and far between,” the new film adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s turn-of-the-20th-century “succès de scandale” Diary Of A Chambermaid—which has already been made into movies by Luis Buñuel and Jean Renoir—does itself no favors by refusing to stick to a through-line. It touches on the novel’s pessimism, decadence, and politics only in brief, fervid moments. As in the other versions, chambermaid Célestine (Léa Seydoux, insouciant almost to the point of self-parody) arrives at the provincial Lanlaire household from Paris, becoming privy to local hypocrisies and delusions even as she develops a fascination with stable groom Joseph (Vincent Lindon), an apelike anti-Semite who plans to rob the Lanlaires and casually says things like, “Jews should be massacred; it’s the only solution.”

Buñuel’s version moved the time frame forward to the years before World War II, turning Célestine’s …

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