Source: Unsplash


  • Release date: September 17th
  • Genre: Thriller

Content Warning: The film I’m reviewing deals with heavy subjects such as abuse, assault and mental health.

The Mad Women’s Ball is an adaptation of the original Victoria Mas novel.


The plot

Set in Paris 1885, the film is about Eugéne Cléry (played by Lou de Laâge), a young French socialite who is sent to the psychological ward of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital after she says she can communicate with spirits.

During her time there, she manages to strike a crisis of confidence in nurse Geneviève (played by Melanie Laurent who also directs the film).

The Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital is a real location in France. It is a well-regarded neurological treatment centre which is still used today.

In my opinion, this film isn’t a glowing reflection of the hospital – I believe it is more of a drama on the institutionalised mistreatment of women.

The film doesn’t shy away from this topic. It showcases how women were treated for acting out of turn. It isn’t too lurid and is more reserved, but the film doesn’t pull its punches when showing the mistreatment of women.

Credit: Fiction Horizon

The performance

Lou de Laâge and Melanie Laurent pull a great performance in this film. Lou de Laâge plays the kind hearted but resilient prisoner rather well.

Melanie Laurent does well as Genevieve. Her character has a good journey, from emotionally distant but still caring nurse, to a more comforting role.

These two are great in the roles. You could even make the case for this to be a two hander. However, there are some good supporting performances here as well.

Benjamin Voisin who plays Eugéne’s brother Théophile, and Lomane de Dietrich who plays fellow patient Louise, have short but memorable performances. While I did think the character Louise should have been introduced earlier, Emmanuelle Bercot has a memorable turn as a nurse who is the polar opposite to Laurent’s character.

Costumes and set

The film also boasts some lovely costume and production designs, bolstered by some great cinematography from Nicolas Karakatsanis.

Final thoughts?

The Mad Women’s Ball is a great, but sometimes hard to watch film bolstered by two great lead performances.

It’s a bit too early to predict that this might get any nominations for Best Foreign film at any of the major awards, but do expect to see this pop up in discussion.

The Mad Women’s Ball is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

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