Last night I watched an interesting short film, called Portraits de Maîtresses (2012), on TV5 Monde. Directed by Rocco Labbé, Portraits de Maîtresses, is based on, the 19th century French poet, Charles Baudelaire’s Le Spleen de Paris [a.k.a. Paris Spleen]; a compilation of 51 short poems written in prose, yet preserving the poetic imagery, vital effectual elements and essence.

Portraits de Maîtresses, is set in a smoking lounge, during the Belle Époque; a period of optimism, peace, new technology and scientific discoveries in Europe (i.e. from 1871- 1914), and in this case towards the end of the 19th Century; in Paris, where Four gentlemen meet, smoke and drink into the night. Each one discusses, a memory of theirs, that involves a beautiful woman. A woman each one had once loved and lost. A woman that has affected them, leaving behind a deep mark on them, either positively or negatively, like no other woman had ever done.

The first three, talk about their women, with a sense of humour, jestingly, thus making us feel this short flick is a comedy. But then the fourth, the most pensive, quiet, brooding, of the four gentleman reflects on his affaire de coeur, with the perfect woman; both looks wise and personality wise; with a disastrous shocking twist.

This whole movie, runs only 14 minutes, and set in one night. Superbly done, by a new director, who has only two short films to his credit. This is a superb insight into the late 19th century society, when the world unfortunately still predominantly was a man’s world. And their perception of women was that of an inferior sex that existed solely for man’s pleasure. Women are both admired and ridiculed, desired and debased. It’s an excellent flick which entwines all the Cinematic elements of History, Poetry, Satire, Comedy and Intellect. Love this flick, that managed to say so much in such little time. 10/10

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense