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
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
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
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