Clumsy, at best, sloppy at worst. Everything from the costumes to the acting felt rather cheap. I get that Breillat is on a mission to get her message across (as she always does), but that shouldn't take away from story, and it nearly always does in her case. Not thrilled by this.
A humdrum fairy-tale adaptation that's 'Petite Maison' on the Prairie by way of an uneventful renaissance fayre performance, summarised by the Kathy Burke-in-Hagrid-Drag Bluebeard slowly tottering up a staircase for most of the climax. Also surprised that this was filmed only 6 years ago as it really does strike me as incredibly 70's daytime TV show in its style and production. Carter's The Bloody Chamber is better.
The little kids telling the story make this movie work. The acting has satisfying nuance and feeling. Hearing small children speaking French with all the familiar patterns weakens my resolve to be annoyed about folk tales. The scene with the grills talking about ogres seems to be the best scene. Funny!
Would have been a lot more effective if the focus stayed on the actual story of Bluebeard. The constant interjections ended up bringing everything to a halt in their failed roles as lighthearted interludes (notwithstanding the relatively intriguing ending). When Breillat returns to the tale at hand, this film really shines due in large part to Créton's impressive performance and the wonderful set designs.
I'm really sorry for the parallel structure of the film. The images of the two children reading "Bluebeard's" tale, that integrate a narration inside the reality of the film, are too much, frequently ruining the "main story", either by flawed humour or simply by cutting the emotion or suspense of its counter-part. Yet, this film has some of the most overwhelming shots I've seen for a long time. Breillat must be good.
I quite liked Breillat's version of Bluebeard (though Mubi should also show Michael Powell's version of Bartok's opera based on the same story). It has a poetic simplicity that reminds me of Pasolini, as do the characters' silences, which suggest that we really are in someone's living room watching the honest and awkward behavior of people we know.