Directed By: Alice Winocour

Starring: Vincent Lindon, Soko, and Chiara Mastroianni

There haven't been quite as many weird movies at indie theaters this year thankfully.  I'm happy to say we haven't gotten another Holy Motors or The Paperboy.  This week, however, I think we're getting our first dose of weirdness with the French drama Augustine, a film that explores the relationship between neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his most interesting patient.

Augustine (Soko) is a housemaid and suffers a serious hysterical attack one night while serving dinner to her employers and their guests.  While it appears to be seizure-like, she also seems to be sexually stimulated by the attack.  Augustine is immediately sent to a local medical facility where she is treated by Dr. Charcot (Vincent Lindon).  There, he discovers that this attack has desensitized her to touch on her right side.  She cannot feel a thing on that side of her body, nor can she open her right eye.  As the attack is not an isolated incident, she will stay at Charcot's facility for monitoring.  Charcot will also study her ailment by hypnotizing her and publicly provoking these hysterical attacks.  Once she is cured, he will release her, but not a moment sooner.

The film starts off with an explosive opening and just fizzles from there.  Director Alice Winocour just wanders into strange sexually-charged territory in this historical drama.  Our titular character's hysterical attacks seem to be more pleasurable than painful.   Because of this, the film's sensuality serves as more of a distraction than a genuinely interesting plot point.  With this in mind, Augustine is ultimately a strange mix between Hysteria and A Dangerous Method.  Unlike either, it won't hold your attention because there are quite a few lulls in this period piece.  It's a real shame because I had such high hopes for this flick after the opening.

The other problem with Augustine is that it's entirely too predictable.  At no point does this feel like a worthwhile exploration of a famed neurologist's professional life.  It feels more like recycled material from past indies that's been thrown together in a hodgepodge of a film.  I personally have never studied Charcot or any of his work in depth, but I could tell you everything that was going to happen in this movie long before it actually takes place.  There's nothing to learn in an empty, formulaic drama like this.

Augustine nearly put me to sleep.  It's just so boring that shuteye became quite a tempting cure to the lulls.  The only other remedy would have been some Cosmopolitans.  With this in mind, I have to give this failed period piece a 0.09% rating.