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.

In French.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White


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