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Murderous Maids

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Sep 23, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Class struggle, incest, and murder are at the heart of France's most horrific crime of the 20th century. In "Murderous Maids," director Jean-Pierre Denis paints a provocative portrait of the notorious Papin sisters that is sympathetic yet unapologetic. The sisters, Christine and Lea, are forced into servitude by their self-absorbed mother and become increasingly outraged by the injustice of their position. The sisters find solace in each other, and their relationship becomes all-consuming. When their secret is threatened, they lash out. END

Special Features

  • Interviews with actress Sylvie Testud and director Jean-Pierre Denis
  • Janet Flanner's 1933 Vanity Fair article recounting the actual events
  • Photos from newspapers of the time

Product Details

  • Actors: Sylvie Testud, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Isabelle Renauld, Dominique Labourier, François Levantal
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Denis
  • Writers: Jean-Pierre Denis, Michèle Pétin, Paulette Houdyer
  • Producers: Laurent Pétin, Michèle Pétin
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2003
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS4F
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,860 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murderous Maids" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2005
Format: DVD
This film tells the tawdry story of the notorious Papin sisters, and it is quite a story. In early 1933, a crime of dreadful and shocking brutality stunned the nation of France, and its citizens watched in horror as the facts unfolded. The Papin sisters, Christine and Lea, stood accused of savagely murdering their employer, Madame Lancelin, and her daughter, Genevieve, in the household where they worked as maids.

In late 1933, the trial resulted in the elder sister, Christine, being convicted of both murders and sentenced to death, a sentence later commuted to that of life in prison. She would die four years later in an asylum for the criminally insane. Her younger sister, Lea, was also convicted, but only of the murder of Madame Lancelin, and was sentenced to serve ten years of hard labor. She served eight years of her ten year sentence and was then released, living to a ripe old age.

In the film, the viewer sees that the sisters came from a totally dysfunctional household. Their mother, the selfish and unloving Clemence (Isabel Renauld), kicked her alcoholic husband out the household, when she discovered that he had been molesting their oldest daughter, Emilie. She then placed their three daughters in a Catholic orphanage run by nuns. Clemence, relieved of the day-to-day responsibility of her daughters, would see them on occasion.

Emilie eventually decided to become a nun. When Christine later expressed an interest in following in Emilie's footsteps, her mother quashed that notion. Instead, as Christine (Sylvie Testud) grew older, Clemence looked to her as a source of income, hiring her out to work as a maid. The viewer sees the deadening effect of her servitude, as her employers treat Christine as a virtual nonentity.
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Format: DVD
Les Blessuers Assassines

Two sisters with an abusive mother are forced into servitude as maids. The eldest sister forms a protective bond over her younger sister to shelter her from their mother. Eventually the bond turns incestuous. When the madam of their household discovers their relationship and threatens to expose them, the sisters turn to murder to protect their secret.

Based on the true story of the Papin sisters, Murderous Maids is interesting and well acted. The movie forgoes delving into the psychological motivations of these two women. Best I can guess from the content of the film is that they felt like it was them against the world. Poor, uneducated, unwanted, picked on by their employer and their mother, it seems they only had each other and would do anything to protect their relationship.

I've seen enough French films to feel indifferent to the theme of this movie but be warned that many other reviewers found it dark and disturbing. I've written this before-the French are so...inventive when it comes to relationships and when passion takes hold, they let it flow over all reason.

If you like this movie, I'd high suggest watching One to Another and Savage Grace which are also based on a true crimes involving incest and murder.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Murderous Maids" is the second film I've seen about France's Papin sisters, two domestics who, in the early 1930's, savagely murdered their employer and her daughter. Slightly superior to "Sister, My Sister", Britain's Papin film, "Murderous Maids", based on the book "L'affaire Papin", not only possesses a greater degree of psychological sophistication, but is more historically accurate. That being said, "Murderous Maids" (or, more correctly, "Les Blessures Assassines") more or less winds up being a showcase for the sublime performance given by Sylvie Testud, who, despite no physical resemblance, brings us as close as I believe is humanly possible to touching the strange entity that was Christine Papin--and it's about as close as most people would want to get. Julie-Marie Parmentier as co-star is dutifully overshadowed, much as her character Lea lived in the shadow of her older sister Christine in actual life. Their love scenes are both sweet and sexy, which makes for an intriguing juxtaposition to the off-putting gruesomeness of the murders. While these women (particularly Christine) felt victimized by their lowly social status, their chaotic family romance (manipulative, self-absorbed mother; absent father) played a parallel role in determining their (and their employer's) unfortunate fate.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the true story of the Papin sisters, Christine and Lea, who were convicted in the 1930's of one of France's most notorious crimes. "Murderous Maids" chronicles their lives and the commitment of that crime: the brutal slaying of their employer and her daughter.

Both girls are raised by nuns and on finishing school, their mother sells them into servitude. Christine, the elder sister, is fiercely protective of Lea, becoming more of a mother to Lea than their actual mother. In time, Christine arranges for Lea's employment in the same household and eventually they develop an obsessive, incestuous Lesbian relationship.

Christine's world is rocked in childhood: she is shattered by the realization that her beloved alcoholic father raped her elder sister--a sister who resolved her own demons by becoming a nun. As Christine matures, she becomes brittle, tightly wound and mentally unstable: her whole life totally focused on her sister. Lea, a much weaker character, willingly clings to Christine, almost as if Christine is the leader of their private cult. It is a deeply disturbing portrayal and very well acted.
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