Alice Winocour’s assured first feature explores the real-life doctor-patient relationship between the nineteenth-century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon) and the illiterate 19-year-old housemaid of the title (played by Soko, best known as a pop singer). After an inexplicable seizure renders half her face paralyzed, Augustine is sent to Charcot’s clinic in Paris, where he has established himself as one of the foremost authorities on “hysteria.” Revered by all, the solemn doctor (who would later be one of Sigmund Freud’s teachers) selects Augustine to be one of the prized patients—under hypnosis, and often naked—used in his weekly demonstrations to other physicians about the possible biological causes of this exclusively female mental disorder. As Charcot continues his work with Augustine, he crosses several ethical lines—a violation that makes her aware of her own ability to fight back. Thanks to Lindon’s and Soko’s intensely committed performances, and to Wincour’s intelligent, non-didactic presentation of the era and its long-outmoded, exploitative practices, Augustine offers viewers an intimate look at the shifting balance between power and vulnerability.
Fiercely yet faithfully imagined by… Alice Winocour, [the film] is not exclusively a mystery. It’s also part love story, part horror story, as well as a parable of gender, power and the enduring enigma that is the mind-body connection.
—Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post
Professor Charcot: Vincent Lindon
Constance: Chiara Mastroianni
Official Selection – Cannes Film Festival (2012), City of Lights, City of Angels (COLCOA) French Film Festival (2013)
RUNNING TIME 102 min
PRODUCTION France, 2012
FORMAT(S) DCP and Blu-ray
Music Box Films
$250 to $400 pending format
*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.