In 1950s France, Gabrielle is a passionate, free-spirited woman who is in a loveless marriage and falls for another man when she is sent away to the Alps to treat her kidney stones. Gabrielle yearns to free herself and run away with André.
Loïe Fuller was the toast of the Folies Bergères at the turn of the 20th century and an inspiration for Toulouse-Lautrec and the Lumière Brothers. The film revolves around her complicated relationship with protégé and rival Isadora Duncan.
Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) comes from a small village in the South of France, at a time when her dream of true love is considered scandalous, and even a sign of insanity. Her parents marry her to José (Alex Brendemühl), an honest and loving Spanish farm worker who they think will make a respectable woman of her. Despite José's devotion to her, Gabrielle vows that she will never love José and lives like a prisoner bound by the constraints of conventional post-World War II society until the day she is sent away to a cure in the Alps to heal her kidney stones. There she meets André Sauvage (Louis Garrel), a dashing injured veteran of the Indochinese War, who rekindles the passion buried inside her. She promises they will run away together, and André seems to share her desire. Will anyone dare rob her of her right to follow her dreams? Written by
Marion Cotillard is arresting as a selfish, neurotic young woman who carries her self-imposed burdens into adulthood before an epiphany years later awakes her to the realities of love and life. Cotillard's "Gabrielle" when younger, reveals a selfish, emotionally disturbed young lady believing she has an entitlement to a passionate erotic love life with partners out of her reach. Such leads to her parents' drastic counter-productive remedy of an arranged marriage. I've not read the novel and am unsure if Gabby's physical malady which send her to a sanatorium suggests a cause of her problems or is simply a plot devise. Regardless, the dialog, acting, pacing and photography in this film are first rate! If I had to find fault I'd suggest adding some "clues" and/or nuance to the "mystery" that leads us to the solution But don't miss this fine French film!
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