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Many noble families are locked in a chateau due to the French Revolution. The infamous Marquis de Sade is there and is generally shunned by the others. A teen-aged girl befriends him behind her parents back and learns about him and life in general. He initiates her into sexual exploration and leads her to become an independent, sexually-liberated woman. Written by
Daniel Auteuil makes an excellent Marquis de Sade (even better than Geoffrey Rush in Quills) in this intelligent film by one of France's very best directors, Benoit Jacquot (The School of Flesh, Pas De Scandale). Unlike the aforementioned Philip Kaufman picture, which examined the issue of censorship by using Sade and his work as a backdrop, this film intends to explore the sides of the infamous pornographer as philanthropist. While being held prisoner in a grand chateau with many other nobles following the French revolution, Sade befriends a curious young woman and teaches her a thing or two about growing up. The relationship they develop is genuine and in the end very moving, mostly because while instructing her to loosen up she teaches him how he can reclaim his emotional self and learn to once again love the society that he has dismissed as conventional and narrow. Not Jacquot's best, but a worthy piece of work.
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