Diary of a Chambermaid, The (2015): Benoit Jacquot’s New Version, Previously Filmed by Renoir and Bunuel

The Diary of a Chambermaid, Benoit Jacquot’s period drama, stars Lea Seydoux, who became internationally famous after appearing in the 2013 Cannes Film Fest winner, Blue is the Warmest Color.

The film, which premiered incompetition at the 2015 Berlin Film Fest, is the latest adaptation of Octave Mirbeau‘s novel from 1900 about the relationship between a simple chambermaid and the lecherous master of the house.

Mirbeau’s original novel was adapted into films multiple times, notably Jean Renoir’s 1946 film and Luis Buñuel’s 1964 film.

Set in Normandy at the end of the 19th century, it centers on a beautiful and ambitious chambermaid, Célestine (Léa Seydoux), who begins service at her new employers, the Lanlaire family.  Monsieur Lanlaire is  a pervert known for molesting and impregnating his chambermaids, while Madame Lanlaire is a bitter wife, who domineers all her servants and often fires them.

Celestine meets the other servants: Marianne, the overweight and homely cook and the older and mysterious Joseph (Vincent Lindon), who’s attracted to the new maid.

Célestine reflects on her past positions, a range of experiences, bith joyous and embarrassing.  She recalls working an elderly husband, humiliated at a train customs stop when his searched suitcase revealed his wife’s dildo. Another position involved the sickly young Georges and his kindly grandmother. Georges became infatuated with Célestine, and after many advances, she had sex with him, but he die during the act, a horrifying experience that left her numb.