THE MAD WOMEN’S BALL
(LE BAL DES FOLLES)
Presented in Association with:
Women in Film
Theatrical U.S. Premiere – Special Presentation COLCOA Awards | France | 2021 | Drama | 122 min |
In French with English subtitles
Directed by: Mélanie Laurent
Written by: Mélanie Laurent, Christophe Deslandes, Julien Decoin
Based on a Novel by: Victoria Mas
Produced by: Ilan Goldman, Axelle Boucai (Légende), Fabrice Lambot (Amazon Studios)
Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Film Editing: Annie Danché
Cast: Lou de Laâge (Eugénie Cléry), Mélanie Laurent (Geneviève Gleizes), César Domboy (Ernest), Benjamin Voisin (Théophile), Emmanuelle Bercot (Jeanne), Cédric Kahn (François Cléry), Grégoire Bonnet (Jean-Martin Charcot), Coralie Russier (Camille), André Marcon (Dr Gleizes)
U.S. Distributor: Amazon Studios
Actors Lou de Laâge and Mélanie Laurent become veritable doppelgangers in Laurent’s haunting feminist chronicle of the late 19th century horrors administered on women in the name of science. Adapted from Victoria Mas’ novel Le Bal des folles, the film’s two-pronged narrative follows Eugenie (de Laâge), a young woman whose father has her committed to the Pitié-Salpêtrière mental asylum because she’s able to communicate with the dead, and Geneviève (Laurent), the clinical head nurse at the hospital during the reign of distinguished neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his “groundbreaking” treatments. Their fates gradually intertwine, as two women — equally impotent, equally trapped — in a patriarchal system in which exploitation, cruelty and sexual abuse run rampant throughout that highly respected institution.
Actor-turned-filmmaker Mélanie Laurent erupted on the scene with her powerful performance in Philippe Lioret’s Don’t Worry, I’m Fine (2006), which earned her both the César Award for Most Promising Actress and the Prix Romy Schneider. She has appeared in well over 40 films, including Cédric Klapisch’s Paris (COLCOA 2008), Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards (2009), Radu Mihaileanu’s The Concert (COLCOA 2010), Mike Mills’ Beginners (2011), Billie August’s Night Train to Lisbon (2013), Christian Carion’s My Son (COLCOA 2018), Laurent Tirard’s Return of the Hero (COLCOA 2018), and Alexandre Aja’s Oxygen (2021). In 2008, Laurent moved behind the camera, and has now co-written and directed five features: The Adopted (Audience Award winner, COLCOA 2012), Breathe (International Critics’ Week, Cannes 2014), Diving (COLCOA 2018), and Galveston (2018). She and Cyril Dion codirected the documentary Tomorrow (Best Documentary Award, COLCOA 2016), which went on to snag a César for Best Documentary Film. Laurent was also featured in a special Focus tribute at COLCOA 2018.