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Augustine movie review
Hysteria, that 19thcentury catchall women malady, is back at the cinema with the debut feature from French director Alice Winocour. As with last year and Dangerous Method from 2011, the story is drawn to some degree from real life.
The title character, a 19yearold maid, has a spectacular fit in the midst of her employers dinner party, bringing down every dish on the table with her. After this promising opening, Augustine the singer Soko winds up in the forbidding women hospital of Salp There she is treated by JeanMartin Charcot Vincent Lindon, admirably brooding and suppressed, a specialist who intrigued by the evident sexual nature of her fits.
The overemphasized point is that Augustine, as well as Charcot wife a profoundly uninteresting Chiara Mastroianni and other patients shown addressing the camera about their symptoms, are going mad from being women in an oppressive place and time.
But going by what shown, Charcot priorities are understandable. The girl is, in fact, most interesting when she having a fit. Winocour skillfully films Augustine being exhibited for other doctors in several disturbingly erotic scenes, but elsewhere Soko stolid, onenote demeanor takes a toll. The script, which gives Augustine no background and mostly shows her either being or having an episode, doesn help.
The movie final third is by far the liveliest. Once she realizes her power over Charcot career, Augustine becomes more than another female sacrifice for the patriarchy.