In this post I discuss and link to the movie Therese and Isabelle (also known as Thérèse and Isabelle and Thérèse et Isabelle). It’s a 1968 French-American romantic drama film directed by Radley Metzger, and loosley based on the novel Thérèse et Isabelle by Violette Leduc. Two young girls meet and share affectionate intimacies in a European boarding school for girls. The movie is now available through archive.org.
Violet Leduc (1907-1972) was French writer from a middle class family. She was born illegitimate and suffered from poor selfesteem as a young girl. Her relatives on the paternal side refused to recognize her. After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Collège de Douai, where she experienced a lesbian affair with her classmate “Isabelle”, which Leduc later adapted into the novel. I read an English translation of it which was a tideous experience. The novel was also censored for a long time.
Radley Metzger’s film adaptation of Thérèse et Isabelle have been generally favorable. IMDB.com presents the plot as following: “An older woman visits the boarding school of her youth after a 20 year absense. While strolling about the deserted grounds and classrooms she remembers her highly emotional experiences there, and well-executed flashbacks occur to her youth. At 17 she is abandoned by her loving mother because of remarriage and left at a European boarding school, disenchanted and lonely. Immediately she meets Isabell, an older, confident, rebellious girl. The two develop a friendship quickly without much conversation or bonding, but have the always temporary chemistry necessary for their friendship to progress into a sexual relationship. (…) Despite their undying love confessions to each other, Theresa wakes up one morning to find Isabelle has left the school, her room and desk replaced with another student. She never see’s Isabel again.” I can’t say I agree to everything in the quoted review. Even if I like the plot in the movie much more than the novel itself, the movie is sometimes too much with an unconvincing dialogue and Metzger’s intrepretation of lesbianism on the whole as a director becomes loathsome, or silly.
Therese and Isabelle (1968)
The movie available through archive.org