Like the theatrical milieu of L’ important C’est D’Aimer (The Important Thing Is To Love, 1975), this depiction of passionate complications during the making of a film vibrates with actorly trauma, romantic angst and shrieking conflicts of ego. Brashly utilizing distanciation techniques as if they were his personal contribution to the language of film, Zulawski gives De Palma a run for his money in the realm of reflexive cheek. What he adds to the panoply of Nouvelle Vague motifs on display is a consistent ability to wring intense performances from his casts; here, Kaprisky and Huster belt out their antagonistic tirades with blistering energy.
The crystal clear, blue-tinged photography of Possession (1981) – such an inspiration to Argento as he embarked on Tenebrae – is replaced here by burnt orange and wood-glow tones, courtesy of the incomparable Sacha Vierny (famed for his marvelous work on Last Year In Marienbad, and now the regular collaborator of Peter Greenaway).
Existing in a highly excited state of over-stimulation, Zulawski s characters have to shout and scream to be heard over the ferocious buzz of a culture hypostatized in a convulsive urge to depict, represent, speak.
Compared to Zulawski, many filmmakers are still playing “Buy A Broom”. –Excerpts from a review by Stephen Thrower, ©EYEBALL Magazine, Issue .4, Winter 1996
A young actress, Ethel, coming from nowhere, is trying to create a personality through her body and her indestructible resolve if necessary, through Elena, her lovers wife who has disappeared. Two men: Lucas Kesling, ambitious cinema director with diabolical powers, and Milan, fallen angel on an earth cracking beneath his feet, both fighting to possess Ethel. The restless filming of a viscontian movie adapted from Dostoyevsky’s “The Possessed” in an opulent and smothering set. A political conspiracy conspiring to do away with the prelate from Eastern Europe, which Milan is inadvertently caught up in. An oppressing and eerie Paris transformed into an expressionist universe which these hunted characters are trying to escape from.
These are essential elements of La Femme Publique (The Public Woman), Andrzej Zulawksi’s 6th film, where the obsessive themes of his dazzling career Trzecia Czesc Nocy (The Third Part of the Night,1971), L’Important C’est D’aimer (The Important Thing is to Love,1975), and Possession (1981) become entangled.
ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI’s La Femme Publique is a cinematic milestone rich with extreme imagery and raw emotions. Twenty five years after its controversial inception at the Cannes Film Festival, this story of a young, struggling actress retains the power to shock even the most seasoned of movie goers with its violently stylish, apocalyptic tone. A woman s destiny, divided between angel and demon…An hour and 54 minutes of painful happiness, La Femme Publique scratches the soul, slaps the eyes, and seduces like the maelstrom that each one of us hides beyond the conscious. To summarize La Femme Publique is impossible, dangerous and impoverishing. Zulawski is not a man of words; he plays and juggles with the image, the color, the rhythm, the sound, the music, and this unspeakable shamelessness that he steals from his actors so effectively. Between humor and paroxysm, La Femme Publique is a fascinating metaphysical experience with a degree of intensity that needs to be seen to be believed. Simply put, it represents cinema at its most insane & brilliant.
– Special Screening & Mention @ 1984 Cannes Film Festival