Directed by: #SylvieVerheyde
Written by: #SylvieVerheyde
Directed and written by Sylvie Verheyde, award winning director for Best Screenplay in her previous work on Stella (2008), Madame Claude (2021) is a biographical drama depicting the rise and fall of Fernande Grudet, the head of a flourishing business dedicated to prostitution from the late 1960s into the 70s. The film has recently dropped on Netflix and is so far garnering mixed to negative reviews from critics and audiences.
Madame Claude offers an intriguing subject matter for a potentially electrifying biopic; however, this film does not live up to its potential and unfortunately results in a lukewarm reception. The film perhaps relies on one having a level of familiarity and knowledge of the subject and very little is developed in terms of the vast cast of characters and underwhelming screenplay.
There seems to be a lot going on in the narrative, but nothing at all, with many dreary subplots which are often confusing to follow and resulting in an overstuffed story with a distinct lack of gravitas and depth to maintain viewer engagement. The film also suffers from a slow, plodding pace in its second act with very little action of narrative consequence seemingly taking place and could have benefitted with more of a dramatic focus on its female leads.
Although it does suffer with a bland and often tedious screenplay and many incidental raunchy sex scenes, Madame Claude is filmed well with an aesthetically pleasing warm colouring and nicely framed shots. There is an effective electronic synth score which is often implemented during suspenseful sequences and adds to the distorted emotions the characters experience from the crime world. The general aesthetic of the 1960s and 1970s is captured wonderfully, with nice period costumes and hairstyles which appear to accurately reflect the film’s setting.
Both female leads compliment each other well. Karole Rocher, award winning actress for her supporting role in Paris la blanche (2017), has a strong command on screen and makes for a believable authoritative figure over others. She also brings a ferocious energy and emotional vulnerability to the role, which is balanced by the elegant Garance Marillier as her right hand woman, Sidonie, whose quiet but fierce qualities are embodied well.
Overall, Madame Claude delivers a mediocre biopic with a lack of focus and development needed to engage and entertain for its overloaded screenplay, but there are certainly good elements on display here which could have benefitted with being given more time to shine.
Madame Claude (2021) Film Trailer: