There’s no upward mobility in Benoît Jacquot’s Diary of a Chambermaid. Set in late 19th century France, the story centers on Celestine, a nubile chambermaid (Léa Seydoux) who takes up a post in Normandy, serving a sleazy master and his imperious wife. As its title suggests Diary of a Chambermaid is episodic, relying on salacious flashbacks to the chambermaid’s previous posts. In between flashbacks class resentment smolders as Celestine’s coworkers, a raging anti-Semite (played well by Vincent Lindon) and a portly servant woman, commiserate with Celestine. Not unlike what you’d expect from a French costume drama, the production and costume design are remarkable; on a big enough screen you can almost smell the countryside. Meanwhile Bruno Coulais’s score strikes up suspense, auguring theft, murder, and animal cruelty. And there’s sex too.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White