La Femme Publique is just a pulp metaphysical turn by an unusually clever technician, though lovers of the sensational may turn on to it as a potential cult item.
There’s plenty of madness but little method or meaning in this tale of an inexperienced actress who lands a role in a film based on Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed , gets bedded and then bounced out by its rabid pseudo-German director, and winds up playing a real-life role subbing as the dead girlfriend of a Czech immigrant, who is manipulated by the filmmaker into committing a political assassination.
Valerie Kaprisky gives her all as the aspiring thesp without much personality. Her big scenes are a series of lewd, nude convulsive dances for a voyeuristic photographer. Francis Huster is the rabid, pretentious filmmaker, and for once the actor’s narcissism finds some effective employ. Lambert Wilson plays the coerced Czech, who has some sexual tangoes with Kaprisky before being set as a decoy to cover the monstrous political plot that never is adequately explained.
Sacha Vierny’s lensing is superbly sinister, rendering the Paris locations as uninviting as the Berlin sites in Andrzej Zulawski’s last film Possession.