Madame Cluade is a biographical drama film written and directed by Sylvie Verheyde and starring Karole Rocher, Garance Marillier, Roschdy Zem, Pierre Deladonchamps, alongside other cast members.
Madame Claude is a movie about prostitution, a woman’s ambition for power and how all good things must come to an end. The movie focuses on a lot of different things – for starters, it’s a look into the lives of the girls in the brothel that is run by Madame Claude, or Fernande Grudet which is her real name. The brothel caters exclusively to the high and mighty in the game, including dignitaries, civil servants and even the big guns of the film industry.
The girls, all beautiful and up-to-date about how to please such high-ranking men, however, don’t take their profession as anything other than what it is – a profession. It’s their everyday work and they derive no pleasure from it. All of that can be very much deduced from the look on the girls’ faces as they indulge in various pursuits.
Madame Claude also focuses on a woman’s ambition, particularly that of its protagonist’s. Grudet is hungry for power, to make something of herself in a world dominated by men. In the first few minutes of the film, it is clear how determined and focused she is. She tells the audience that since men take women to be whores, she decided to be the queen of them. Which works out perfectly for her, in a way. She’s headstrong, focused and knows what she wants. There’s no fear in her demeanour and everyone is true to her command.
However, there are more things that Grudet has to be wary of, and that includes other forms of crimes and criminals as well as law enforcement. However, Madame Claude has that under control as well. She’s an informant for the police and that keeps her safe.
But, like how all good things must come to an end in life and in the movie as well, that’s where the novelty wears off for the film. One of the biggest gripes I have with Madame Claude is its insufferable pacing. Sure, slow-moving dramas can be quite the watch, but this movie isn’t like that. For most of the movie, you’d probably skip ahead because there’s not much happening in front of you and you’d wish for the movie to wrap up already.
Additionally, as can be expected, there’s tons of sex and skin on display every few minutes. Although it’s not done in a crass or disturbing way, it’s still there, so if you’re watching this with family or anywhere other than a safe place, I’d advise against it.
Summing up: Madame Claude
Madame Claude is an interesting biographical drama that would’ve benefited from quicker pacing. There’s a lot going on here and some very hard-hitting and exciting ideas are on display which is all too clear to see but never gets overwhelming. However, it’s the pacing that kills it here and although Karole Rocher and Garance Marillier shine as the leading ladies of this movie, they aren’t able to pull it out from being a somewhat interesting watch.
Garance Marillier is excellent though and certain worth a watch.
Madame Claude is streaming on Netflix.
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