“A compelling central performance from Isabelle Huppert . . . (who) quietly commands attention as she slides from worldly poise and absolute certainty about her mission to increasingly fearful behavior” (Variety). Set in seventeenth-century France, Saint-Cyr takes its title from a boarding school founded by Madame de Maintenon (Huppert) for the daughters of destitute noblemen. Huppert enacts a wonderful arc: a commoner who climbed the social ladder to become wife of Louis XIV, she initially espouses liberal values and the virtues of truth and beauty; however, when her students become increasingly empowered, both sexually and intellectually, a war of wills erupts, and Maintenon pursues a martial regimen of rules and regulations to keep her charges in check. Meticulously and lavishly executed, with music composed by John Cale, Saint-Cyr is a wryly conceived microcosm of its setting's social and political clashes.

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