OLIVIA (N/C 15)
Queer passions run deep in a French finishing school in Jacqueline Audry’s remarkable adaptation of Dorothy Bussy’s novel. Olivia, an English teenager, joins a nineteenth century French finishing school and falls in love with one of the teachers in this daring landmark depiction of lesbian desire, newly restored in its original, uncut version.
Her same sex attraction provokes crises in other teachers and schoolgirls when it seems that Olivia’s love may be requited. The film caused a sensation, and was cut in both the UK and the US. Edwige Feuillère and Simone Simon star as the school’s other school mistresses, consumed by petty jealousies.
A key work of queer cinema, Audry’s film also offers a sensitive yet unflinching portrait of adolescent sexual awakening and the confusions and traumas of youth. Co-written by her sister Colette, it is a remarkable achievement.