I have a love/hate relationship with Catherine Briellat. She’s got my number in a lot of ways (women/girls navigating through a man’s world, precocious sexuality, violence) and no matter how many times I turned off my DVD player in disgust, she’s a filmmaker that I’m always curious about.
Bluebeard is one of my favorite fairy tales. It’s about a lord who keeps marrying women and then murdering them because they are too curious. A cogent lesson. According to things I read during my Charles Perrault phase, one of the inspirations for Bluebeard was Gilles de Rais. What, you don’t have a ‘killers of yore’ catalogue in your brain? Stop twisting my arm! I’d love to tell you about him. Gilles served faithfully as Joan of Arc’s right hand man but when she was murdered by France (Yeah I said it) he lost his faith and became a satanist eventually raping and killing anywhere between 80-600 kids of both genders. You’re welcome.
Earlier versions of fairy tales are all fucked up (see: Sleeping Beauty) but Bluebeard is one that has stayed pretty horrific and there’s no one better to film it than Catherine Briellat. It’s two stories, sisters in contemporary-ish day reading the fairytale cut with sisters in late medieval thymes living the story. She deals in broad strokes and the hyperbolic and I thought it all worked - she was made for fairy tales. There was no moment of me yelling “fuck you Briellat!” at the tv to find my remote and jesus christ just turn it off.
She’s fantastic at casting and filming children and the gals in Bluebeard turn out amazing performances. Bottom line: I liked it a lot. In fact, I’m getting that ugly sneaking feeling that I’m going to have to rewatch the movies of hers that I hated. I’m looking at you, Fat Girl.