Augustine (movie)

Review: 'Augustine' shows medical progress in primitive era

Review: 'Augustine' shows medical progress in primitive era

The doctor-patient relationship at the center of the striking debut feature "Augustine" is modern for its time, the late 19th century. Yet it feels primitive, and not merely because of what we know about the period's scientific limitations.

As told by filmmaker Alice Winocour, the story of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and the teenage kitchen maid Augustine who became one of his most celebrated cases alternates between impenetrable Gothic shadow and dreamy Baroque light. It's a story of women's "hysteria," the catch-all term for mysterious symptoms like Augustine's, and a story of primal female power — debased, dissected and displayed.

The film's dark...

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