This Claude Miller film is a fairly quietly done, competent adaptation of  the Francois Mauriac novel .  (The film is released in the U.S. under the shortened title Therese.)  I hasten to add that I have not read the novel so cannot judge the faithfulness of the adaptation.  I have also not seen the earlier filmed version.

The tale kept my interest, Therese (Audrey Tautou), the daughter of a large landowner who is also a political radical, decides to marry a man whose family’s estate–also large– borders hers.  We learn early on that Therese does not fit well into her provincial society where family interests reign supreme.  She hopes marriage will straighten out her inner uncertainties.  This does not happen. If anything, her psychological state becomes more tumultuous even while she generally manintains a serious, composed manner.  Neither does motherhood make her more settled.  She is a  deeply dissatisfied woman ,more certain, it seems. of what she does not like than what she does, and unable to find her inner core.  This search for personal authenticity strikes me as having an existentialist flavor.  As existentialism is not currently fashionable, I suppose this comes from the novel.

While the focus of the film is on Therese, as it progresses, her husband, Bernard (Gilles Lellouche), becomes more important and an interesting figure in his own  (non-existentialist) way.  He is not a bad sort, and if he has a limitted outlook, he also has real affection for his wife.  Therese’s relationship with her sister-in-law, Anne (Anaïs Demoustier), who has been a friend since childhood, is also intriguing.

The ending, at least superficially, seems a somewhat happy one.  Yet, if this is the intent of the director, I, for one, cannot help but think that this is not consonant with the complexity of the character  and situation we have come to know. Still, the story is a strong one and the ending can provoke discussion,  I think, the film is worth seeing.