Jean Genet's unsettling ménages-of sexual repression, power, and criminality; of vulgarity and saintliness-are evident in this drama for which he wrote the script. The dark tale is played out in the confines of a small French village where the powers that be are the mayor, the chief of police, and a schoolmarm and professional virgin called simply Mademoiselle (Jeanne Moreau). Enter a burly Italian guest worker and his teenage son, and Mademoiselle's power base is shaken: passion begins to consume her and everything around her. Director Tony Richardson depicts the cruel side of obsession as he had the comic in Tom Jones and The Loved One. Moreau takes the occasion to pull out all the stops in a portrayal that echoes Greek tragedy, but perversely carries ritual to a rather more biblical climax.

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