La Vouivre (1989)

Countries - France   |  
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Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

This poetic French drama about the inner experience of a returning World War I soldier, is based on the much-loved and highly regarded novel La Vouivre by Marcel Ayme. Georges Wilson, a well-established presence on the French stage, makes his filmmaking debut as a screenwriter and director. A "vouivre" is a wood-nymph, beautiful but completely lacking in human sensibilities. At the start of the film, Arsene (Lambert Wilson), a discharged soldier, returns to his family's farm. His return provokes quite a reaction, as he had been presumed dead. He is tormented by memories of the war, and finds brief consolation in his experiences with the wood-nymph (Laurent Treil). However, despite her magical qualities, it becomes clear that even a peasant farmer has more richness and depth to his character than the soulless "vouivre" can ever attain. In the novel, it's not clear whether the wood-nymph is real or the product of hallucinations caused by a head injury Arsene sustained in the war. In this movie version, the reality of the "vouivre" is never questioned.