Director Michel Deville offers this adaptation of Raymond Jean's 1986 novel La Lectrice (The Reader). Constance (Miou-Miou) is a blonde with a sonorous voice who enjoys reading to her boy friend in bed. As the film opens, the novel she's reading aloud is Jean's La Lectrice, whose main
character, Marie, is not unlike Constance. As Constance reads, Marie (also played by Miou-Miou) is placing a newspaper ad offering her services as a "reader"--of novels, poems, manuscripts, and other texts on a private, in-home basis. Though intricately structured and innovatively staged, LA
LECTRICE is essentially a one-note movie with very little content and even less personality or heart. Rather than creating a movie with life and imagination all its own, Deville has produced a cold thesis that says nothing at all about real human emotions or desires. LA LECTRICE is an exercise in
film language and cinematic structure, but unlike the work of the greatest directors in this mode (Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Raul Ruiz), Deville's exercise is empty. Fortunately, there are some pleasant performances.
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