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42. La Lectrice
The Reader

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La Lectrice is a whimsical - some might say bizarre - French film. An acquired taste and probably best suited for those already appreciative of French cinema.

In bed with her husband, Constance (Miou-Miou) reads the novel called "La Lectrice" "The Reader" - a clue to the spiral of self reference to come.. She likes the idea of becoming a professional reader herself, and puts a small ad in the local newspaper. The newspaper man is aware, as she is not, of the possible complications to come.

She reads the novel each night to her husband and likes it so much that she ends up identifying with the heroine of the book, Marie. We see Miou-Miou as both Constance the reader and Marie the reader that Constance is reading about.

Constance / Marie has a jolie voix (attractive voice), a passion of reading, and a numinous presence that makes people happy. The story provides Miou-Miou with the opportunity to find one of her very best roles and she offers a delightful persona.

The whole thing is wonderfully French and depends heavily an the viewers familiarity with French and world literature. Clients include the aging Hungarian widow of a general (Maria Cazares) who selects her favorite passages from the works of Marx and Lenin. Another is a disabled teenager called Eric (Regis Royer) suffering from his emerging sexuality wants her to read Maupassant and Baudelaire to him,. Another is a businessman (Patrick Chesnais) with no time to read and just wants a summary of great literature. Another is a young girl (Charlotte Farran) whose mother is too busy to read to her and who likes Alice In Wonderland. Yet another is a judge with a taste for erotic literature, including the Marquis de Sade. Other authors include Marguerite Duras and Tolstoy, In each case personal relationships compromise her role as a professional reader. Her clients all turn out to be seeking a little more than the solace of literature, and her sunny nature works a transformation on each of them.

According to taste viewres might find parts of the film erotic - from Baudalaire's golden braid of hair to de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom - an extract from which appears on the film poster for the French version.

The film is set in Arles which provides a picturesque backdrop to her ambling from client to client and others including a doctor, a policeman and her old tutor. The town's authorities become increasingly suspicious of her new profession and the effect it seems to be having on some of her clients. The lives of Constance and Marie become so merged, that it is hard to distinguish what is real and what is fantasy.

The Director, Deville explores themes that cover cinema as well as literature, providing more opportunities for reference and self reference There are multiple layers to the story, and actors play multiple parts. La Lectrice , released in 1988, is based on Raymond Jean's novel "La Lectrice".

Another good element classical music used mainly as our heroine walks down the streets of Arles between her reading appointments. The music (by Beethoven) gives the movie an impression of lightness and well-being, and reflects the joy of life..



César Awards (France): Won: Best Actor – Supporting Role (Patrick Chesnais)

1988 Grand Prix des Amériques: Michel Deville

1988 Prix Louis Delluc : Michel Deville


Comedy, Erotic Drama

Directed by

Michel Deville

Produced by


Written by

Michel Deville
Rosalinde Deville


Régis Royer
Maria Casarès
Patrick Chesnaish

Music by

Ludwig van Beethoven

Release date

17 August 1988

Running time

97 min











Constance / Marie..

Régis Royer


María Casares

General's Widow

Patrick Chesnais

Company Director

Pierre Dux


Christian Ruché

Jean / Philippe

Brigitte Catillon

Eric's Mother

Marianne Denicourt


Charlotte Farran


Clotilde de Bayser

Coralie's Mother

Jean-Luc Boutté

Police Inspector

Simon Eine.

Hospital Professor

Maria de Medeiros

L'infirmière muette

André Wilms

Man in Rue Saint-Landry

Bérangère Bonvoisin

Joel's Mother

Sylvie Laporte


Léo Campion

Le grand-père

Hito Jaulmes

L'Ami d'Eric

Michel Raskine

Man at Agency

sabelle Janier

.L'infirmière bavarde

Sylvie Jean

La secrétaire de l'agence

Gabriel Barakian

Le mari de Jocelyne

Christian Blanc

Marie's Tutor

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