Every good fairy tale taps into carnal dread, and Bluebeard is no exception. Charles Perrault’s 17th-century yarn follows the young wife of the aristocratic ogre Bluebeard, who keeps a secret locked chamber.
When his wife breaks in and finds the room filled with the corpses of previous wives, she’s forced to fight for her own survival. In her adaptation, French director Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) gives the heroine a backstory: after her beloved father dies and leaves the family penniless, Marie-Catherine (Lola Créton) yearns for wealth and power, and that propels her to the castle of Bluebeard (Dominique Thomas).
Will Breillat flip the tale and have Marie-Catherine take advantage of her paramour? Alas, the plot unfolds as you’d expect. This retelling is framed within a second story set in the 1950s in which two sisters play in an attic; what befalls them is less a twist ending than a shaggy-dog story. An English version of the Bluebeard tale cautions, “Be bold, be bold, but not too bold” — advice Breillat seems to have taken to heart.