Violette

Martin Provost—whose excellent Séraphine (2008) dramatized the life of half-mad primitivist painter Séraphine de Senlis—takes on another true story of a tempestuous woman who was recognized as a gifted artist: Violette Leduc, author of such notable prefeminist works as The Bastard and In the Prison of Her Skin. This languorous 2013 feature may not live up to its predecessor, but Emmanuelle Devos gives a volcanic performance as Leduc, who tried to erase her youthful lesbian romances with a heterosexual marriage that only ended in misery. By far the most interesting element here is Leduc’s emotionally fraught relationship with Simone de Beauvoir, who discovered her and nurtured her career; Provost implies that de Beauvoir, played by Sandrine Kiberlain, was much less concerned with Leduc as a person than as a fellow gender provocateur whose work might reinforce the social impact of her own. In French with subtitles.