Handsome French mini “Princess Marie” reps the first tube lead for Catherine Deneuve, as the granddaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose 20-year friendship with Sigmund Freud (Heinz Bennent) moved from patient to protector. Early December U.S. preem at Washington D.C. Jewish fest will spark interest, though frank nature of the subject will limit stateside exposure.
Pic jumps right into the Princess’ problem, with graphic talk of her early 1920s genitalia operation to cure what she’s been told is the frigidity marring her marriage to Greece’s Prince George. When the procedure proves ineffective, she travels to Vienna to undergo then-experimental treatment under initially skeptical Freud. Bulk of the pic delineates their work together, growing friendship contrasted against her family turmoil (and two lovers), risks undertaken to get the Jewish Freuds out of wartime Austria, and subsequent championing of psychoanalytic theory and practice in France. Helmer Benoit Jacquot, early-career tube vet, tells the tale with smooth verisimilitude. Deneuve’s patented mix of steely resolve and vulnerability charges her portrayal of the forward-thinking royal, and Bennent (Truffaut’s “The Last Metro,” with Deneuve) is fine. Co-scenarist Louis Gardel wrote Deneuve starrer “Indochine.”