Everything depends on the subtlety of the direction and the charisma of the performances. Augustine is intellectually satisfying partly because it communicates its ideas at the level of feeling, through the uncanny power of Soko’s face and body.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Sokolinski, a French pop singer better known at home as Soko, is fully in tune with Winocour’s sharp vision. Her intense, almost accusatory turn feels like the opposing image of Keira Knightley’s intellectual neurosis in 2011’s similarly themed “A Dangerous Method.” Where that film found some lightness within the dark, this one drags an historic darkness into the light.
Plays like a gothic prequel to David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," one in which human flesh is viewed as both horrific and erotic terrain.
The film is something of a paradox, simultaneously passionate and dispassionate, its ending tethered to both bruised triumph and a sense of things falling apart.
It’s ironic that a movie about social restrictions is at its best when it restrains itself—that is, when it treats its characters as characters rather than figures, and its plot as drama rather than statement.
Soko is terrific, but it is Mr. Lindon who delivers the performance of the film, his internalized consternation amounting to an eloquent dispatch from the war between the sexes.
Anchored by two intense, intertwined perfs by veteran Vincent Lindon and relative newcomer Soko, a musician who also composed the pic’s growling, atmospheric score, this period drama offers a coolly febrile study of madness, Victorian sexual politics and power.
Augustine's script is a coherent and valid artistic reinterpretation of the case, told against an unfussily atmospheric evocation of late 19-century Paris - persuasive even though the dialogue seldom sounds particularly old-fashioned.
The film's dark beauty and the quiet intensity of the performances have a discomforting pull.
Alice Winocour's take on this true story carries the superficial trappings of a period drama, but its perspective is entirely contemporary.