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The Last Mistress (English Subtitled)

3.7 out of 5 stars (70) IMDb 6.4/10

In this provocative romance, Asia Argento stars as the feisty Spanish mistress who will stop at nothing to be in the arms of her forbidden lover.

Asia Argento, Fu'ad Aït Aattou
1 hour, 54 minutes

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Customer Reviews

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By A. J Terry on July 8, 2009
Format: DVD
The French title of "The Last Mistress" could be more accurately translated as "A Former Mistress," or even "An Elderly Mistress"--since the courtesan Vellini is a then-considered-ripe 36 when the movie begins. It is based on a novel by Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly published in 1851, and its period sensibility is as exquisitely accurate as the movie's costumes and sets. This is a portrait of a peculiar marital system. Well-bred French girls were educated in convent boarding schools, primarily in piety, needlework, and social graces. At the age of 17 or so, they returned to their families, who quickly arranged marriages for them. After marriage they were expected to learn how to run a comfortable home and to adopt their husbands' opinions and tastes--but not much else, unless they possessed enough brains and initiative to give themselves intellectual educations.

Meanwhile, well-bred French men of all ages were permitted to enjoy themselves in the demi-monde, drinking, gambling, and visiting courtesans. "The Last Mistress" shows the likely consequences of one such young man marrying one such young woman.

The rake Ryno de Marigny has gambled away his fortune, a much more serious drawback to marriage than his by-then-ten-year relationship with Vellini. However, Hermingarde, the lovely, supremely innocent, aristocratic, and wealthy bride he chooses, is under the sole guardianship of her grandmother, who rather fancies Ryno. As she tells a meddlesome friend, the girls of their own generation grew up in the time of de Laclos (the author of _Les Liasions Dangereuses_). They married rakes and were quite happy, so why should Hermingarde not be happy with Ryno?
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I don't know the details, but it appears that Blockbuster really "locked up" the distribution rights to this brilliant, heart-breaking French film. There are currently no plans to release this to the mass retail U.S. market, so your options are to find a Blockbuster copy, import it from another region 1 country, or buy from someone who has done one of those two things.

Though I'm tempted to prattle on about the movie itself, countless reviews of this Cannes Film Festival Palm d'or nominee can be found online. I will say, it is one of the most stunning, sexually frank, thought-provoking, and melancholy period pieces I've ever seen (I'm a cinemaphile, so I've seen a lot). Filmmaker Catherine Breillat has finally made the film I always felt she was capable of--a true masterpiece. (My opinion of her work at large, is that I always liked what she was attempting, but never found her films that engaging.) I also think Asia Argento was criminally overlooked for her performance here, she has matured from being a joke of an actress (see any of her early films) a wonderfully subdued, but still sexually brazen siren who, unlike many of her counterparts, does not "over act." (I think her newfound acting maturity is why she is working with top notch filmmakers, like Breillat and Assayas, despite her relative obscurity in the U.S.)

What I'd like to address specifically though, is this version of the dvd. The Blockbuster version appears to be the same "unrated" version that played in theatres. I saw it theatrically and watched the dvd, and while Blockbuster has a reputation for editing/censoring their films, to my knowledge, I didn't notice that being done here.

(Be warned...the sex scenes are fairly graphic, though less so than Briellat's previous films.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
At its core, The Last Mistress raises the age old question, What constitutes marriage? The long term earthy sexual bonding of two people or a societally regulated legal arrangement. Hence, Ryno and Vellini, two people orbitting the gravity of their sexual bond, sometimes close and sometimes far but always moving around the same center. Yet their self imposed social norms and economic necessities disturb but never break that bond.

I bought The Last Mistress on DVD after Tivo-ing it on the Independant Films Channel. The DVD happened to be the 104 minute Canadian release by Mongrel Media, also NTSC Region 1 as in the US. The IFC broadcast and DVD are identical in content. However, the DVD version runs slightly faster, hence a ten minute or so time discrepancy. The speed difference raises Ryno's voice pitch slightly so that it is not as deep and full as in the IFC version, but the sensual aura seems to be unaffected. The DVD had a much brighter picture and a thinner font on the English subtitles.

Otherwise I concur with other reviewers in that this film should have gotten alot more attention and play in the mainstream market. While certainly physical and earthy, it is by no means prurient or pornographic. Sadly, many cannot or choose not to discern the difference.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Stunning and theatrical. Everything I like in a thinking person's period piece: evocative setting, passion, complexity in plot and characters, nice sweep of time, museum-quality costuming, consistently watchable. But, one can not watch it as "background music." It is to savo in all its ravishing details. Nudity, sex scenes, yes, but for most adult audiences, these are done with quality and charm; they do not make one flinch. They are erotic, but not pornographic. As to characters and cast: Asia Argento plays a quirkily gorgeous femme fatale with sly elegance, yet she is able to project an air of vulnerability; the young man is handsome and a very credible actor; the triangle at the heart of the film involves a beautiful rival who rivals not by wiles but through a certain purity of intention, and the young man is no cad. Rather, he has enough sensitivity to recognize the gift she presents him with, while at the same time, he is in thrall to a most compelling and singular woman. There is just enough suspense. What will he do?
This is a film that reminds one of classical French pot-boilers. On an aesthetic level it is outstanding. Finally, it is well worth paying attention to and it rewards one every step of the way for doing so.

still transporting enough to take one out of the ordinary to a classic story.
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