The Last Mistress (2007) is based on the 1851 novel Une vieille maîtresse by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, and the film, directed by Catherine Breillat, deals with an intense love affair between an older woman and a younger man, one a courtesan and the other dissolute and relatively aimless without much of anything going on under his pretty exterior (so, a lot like Cheri on the surface). What ends up driving the plot is La Vellini, the titular mistress, is a fucking nutbar. Like, full-on “don’t stick your dick in crazy” kind of crazy. Which, of course, our hero, Ryno, immediately does. Repeatedly. And to make matters weirder, the whole story is relayed by Ryno at the prompting of his future bride’s grandmother, who appears to be entertained by the fact that her soon-to-be grandson-in-law is in an abusive relationship with a crazy Spanish courtesan.
The film stars Asia Argento as La Vellini (English-language audiences will probably know her best as another crazy mistress, Madame du Barry, in Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette).
And the exceedingly pretty Fu’ad Aït Aattou as Ryno.
Ryno’s beautiful, but neglected young wife, Hermangarde, is played by Roxane Mesquida, who did as stint in the U.S. series Gossip Girl in 2011-2012.
The movie is set in the 1830s, and the costumes were designed by Anaïs Romand, whose noteworthy costume flicks include Diary of a Chambermaid (2015) and Les enfants du siècle (1999). There’s a lot of artistic license taken with La Vellini’s outfits, but the rest of the cast is dressed in lovely Romantic gowns and suits.
The character that I was surprised to find I liked the best was Hermangarde. She’s clearly been chosen for Ryno based on her fortune and beauty, but what lies underneath that flawless exterior is a skeleton made entirely of steel, I’m pretty sure. Sadly, the movie isn’t about her, so we just get glimpses of her inner strength before it’s right back to her husband shagging his mistress.
Have you seen The Last Mistress? Let’s discuss it in the comments!