Film Review: Nature’s Instincts on Display in Unique ‘Augustine’

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CHICAGO – How the human species was able to survive, given its dismissal and treatment of women during certain points in history is somewhat miraculous. This film from France, “Augustine,” chronicles the relationship between a 19th century neurologist and his prized female patient, as she tries to work through a condition called nature. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

What looks like an epileptic seizure on the surface is actually a condition called “Hysteria,” the repressed female sexual release that emerges like a spasm. This was used for comedic purposes in last year’s appropriately titled “Hysteria,” but in this rendering – written and directed by Alice Winocour – it is dead serious. The doctor brought to life in the film, Jean-Martin Charcot, was real, the “founder of modern neurology.” He theorized that Hysteria was a neurological condition, and the narrative in the film proves him wrong, as the biological imperative of sexuality plays an interesting and vital role. The result is absorbing, and is a reminder of the ignorance in the animal side of our humanity.

Augustine (the French actress singularly named Soko) is a lower class chambermaid in 19th century France. During a dinner party service, she suffers what looks like a grand mal seizure, the result of which permanently closes her right eye. The house takes pity on her, and she is checked into a woman’s mental hospital, under the auspice of Dr. Jean Martin-Charcot (Vincent Lindon).

The good doctor focuses on Augustine’s unique case, which involves hypnosis to bring her to the point of Hysteria (the aforementioned repression of female orgasm). Augustine becomes somewhat of a circus act for Dr. Charcot, as he puts her on display before several rounds of colleagues. Despite this chicanery, Augustine becomes enamored of Charcot, and their relationship escalates into a connection neither of them expected.

“Angeline” continues its limited release in Chicago on June 21st. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Vincent Lindon, Soko, Chiara Mastrolanni and Roxane Duran. Written and directed by Alice Winocour. Not Rated.

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Augustine”

Letting Go: The Actress Soko as the Title Character in ‘Augustine’
Photo credit: Music Box Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Augustine”

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