Murderous Maids

Murderous Maids

Director: Jean-Pierre Denis

Cast: Jean-Pierre Denis, Sylvie Testud, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Isabelle Renauld

     
 

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Based on the same infamous murders that inspired Jean Genet's play The Maids, and the earlier film Sister My Sister, this French drama explores the difficult family life, professional pressures, and forbidden bond that in 1933 led sisters Christine and Lea Papin to murder the mother and daughter who employed them as maids. Based on Paulette Houdyer'sSee more details below

Overview

Based on the same infamous murders that inspired Jean Genet's play The Maids, and the earlier film Sister My Sister, this French drama explores the difficult family life, professional pressures, and forbidden bond that in 1933 led sisters Christine and Lea Papin to murder the mother and daughter who employed them as maids. Based on Paulette Houdyer's novel L'affaire Papin, Les Blessures Assassines traces the childhood of Christine Papin (Sylvie Testud), a high-strung child who follows older sister Emilia to a convent school after their parents' bitter divorce. Emilia, who claims to have been molested by their father, eventually becomes a nun, while Christine goes into service to support her libertine mother (Isabelle Renauld), whom she heartily resents. Coddled youngest sister Lea (Julie-Marie Parmentier), who is allowed to grow up at home, feels torn between her love for her mother and her close bond with Christine. A talented but moody servant who is prompt to demand her rights under France's labor laws, Christine moves from position to position, but eventually finds a series of households where she and the now teenaged Lea can serve together. Living and working together, the sisters develop an uncanny affection that crosses over into lesbian incest. Eventually jealousy, class resentment, and family drama drive Christine over the edge -- and she is not above taking the mostly innocent Lea with her. Released the same year as the Papin documentary En Quete Des Soeurs Papin, Les Blessures Assassines marked the first film in more than a decade from writer/director Jean-Pierre Denis.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Nancy Meckler's Sister My Sister turned the story of the infamous Papin sisters into a stylized, claustrophobic treatise on the emotional savagery of the domestic sphere. The identical incident inspired Jean Genet to write the play The Maids, a farcical examination of social hierarchies. This far more realistic treatment of the same subject seeks to uncover the true-crime details hidden behind all such explanations. By moving outside the ritualized world of master and servant, Les Blessures Assassines gives a broader portrait of provincial France in 1933, a time of economic disparity and shifting class roles. Labor reform had given servants such as Christine Papin (Sylvie Testud) the freedom to demand their rights, but economic conditions still required working-class mothers such as Clemence Papin (Isabelle Renauld) to send their convent-trained daughters into service to support them. Screenwriter Michele Halberstadt and writer/director Jean-Pierre Denis weave such sociological details into a dramatic structure that finds Christine constantly scheming to attain the privileges afforded to her monied employers: leisure time, beautiful clothing, family equilibrium, and emotional freedom. The sexual relationship between Christine and sister, Lea (Julie-Marie Parmentier), is treated frankly, as a sane reaction to emotional isolation and male predation. But it's Christine's seething resentment and Lea's guilelessness -- both brought meticulously to life by the lead actresses -- that ultimately precipitates a brutal double homicide. By situating the Papin sisters within a real family and authentic French society, Les Blessures Assassines offers an interesting but no less harrowing variation on a tale that's been inspiring storytellers for seven decades.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
Ms. Testud's performance, which earned her a César, the French Oscar, for most promising actress, is the source of the movie's lingering, troubling power.
Washington Post - Stephen Hunter
The movie avoids sensationalism. What it requires and what it delivers is performance.
Los Angeles Times - Kevin Thomas
Denis and Testud, in a wondrous collaboration of a gifted director and equally gifted actress, succeed in making Christine a tragic figure.
L.A. Weekly
A true rarity, Murderous Maids is an intelligent, moral shocker. Manohla Dargis

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/23/2003
UPC:
0037429177129
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
NR
Source:
Homevision
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:34:00

Special Features

Widescreen anamorphic transfer enhanced for 16x9 televisions; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack; Interviews with actress Sylvie Testud and director Jean-Pierre Denis; French and American theatrical trailers; Trailer from the feature "The Maids"

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sylvie Testud Christine Papin
Julie-Marie Parmentier Lea Papin
Isabelle Renauld Clemence
Dominique Labourier Mme. Lancelin
Jean-Gabriel Nordmann M. Lancelin
Francois Levantal Gassed Ex-soldier

Technical Credits
Jean-Pierre Denis Director,Screenwriter
Daniel Baschieri Production Manager
Jeanne Biras Casting
Francoise Chapuis Makeup
Sylvie de Segonzac Costumes/Costume Designer
Marie-Hélène Dozo Editor
Jean-Pierre Duret Sound/Sound Designer
Jean-Marc Fabre Cinematographer
Thomas Gauder Sound Mixer,Sound/Sound Designer
Michele Halberstadt Screenwriter
Laurent Petin Producer
Michele Petin Producer
Bernard Vezat Art Director

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Convent [6:19]
2. Promise to Léa [2:36]
3. A Doormat for Others [7:11]
4. First Cracks [3:15]
5. Jealousy [3:57]
6. Placed Together [5:43]
7. Unique Feelings [5:08]
8. Schizophrenia [6:09]
9. The Lancelin Household [7:44]
10. Illicit Liaison [2:45]
11. Family Rift [3:55]
12. Seperation Anxiety [6:41]
13. Léa's Emancipation [2:45]
14. Resentment [5:37]
15. Evening Holiday [:52]
16. Massacre [3:51]
17. Tortured Souls [7:06]
18. Epilogue & End Credits [6:32]

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