Suffering a nervous breakdown after a passionate affair with a fellow artist, famed sculptress Claudel (Juliette Binoche) is confined to an asylum. Watching the days drift by, she longs to re-enter society. Staking her case with her doctors, she pleads for her sanity. When her brother Paul (Jean-Luc Vincent) appears, she hopes his support will see her release. What transpires is an emotional journey Claudel must take before any sense of normalcy can return.
Camille Claudel 1915 is very much an actor’s piece. Using Binoche’s fine acting abilities, it’s easy getting a sense of her desperate isolation. Seeking to renew her old life and regain her dormant creativity, her frustrations at her plight are understandable. Binoche injects a weary defiance in her role as Camille refuses to slide into obscurity. Feeling she is normal compared to the other asylum patients, her clinging to hope for her brother’s visit is both sad and inspiring.
How religion and the attitudes of the day affect Camille is reasonably shown. Whilst Bruno Dumont’s direction becomes occasionally slow, he manages to effectively tie the film’s themes together. His good use of striking cinematography captures the allure of the outside world and how its tantalising promise enables Camille to survive in her physical and emotional prison.
Having a fine cast and scenery Camille Claudel 1915 is an interesting movie. Made more absorbing due to being based on true events, it proves how her plight ensured she was never forgotten by those admiring the legacy she left behind.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 6