The Last Mistress (15)

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The Independent Culture

Sexual provocateur Catherine Breillat changes genre here with a period tale of amour fou that recalls the scandalous intrigue and heaving bosoms of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

It is 1835, some 50 years on from the era of Laclos, and dissolute aristocrat Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Ait Aattou) is set to marry the virginal Hermangarde (Roxane Mesquida). First he must abandon the tenacious clutches of his mistress Vellini (Asia Argento), who isn't a woman prepared to go quietly – just look at the way she licks his blood as he wakes from surgery.

Sadly, Breillat's direction feels inert, despite the passionate mood, and Aattou as the cherry-lipped swordsman has rather less animation than the tiger-skin rug on which he and Argento are seen making out.