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Alexina (1985)

Mystère Alexina (original title)
In 1856, fresh from life with nuns in an orphanage school, Alexina Barbin comes to a coastal village in La Rochelle to teach the village girls. She is deeply religious. She shares the ... See full summary »

Director:

René Féret

Writers:

Herculine-Adelaïde Barbin (memoirs), René Féret (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Philippe Vuillemin Philippe Vuillemin ... Alexina Barbin / Camille Barbin
Valérie Stroh Valérie Stroh ... Sara
Véronique Silver Véronique Silver ... Madame Avril
Bernard Freyd Bernard Freyd ... Armand
Marianne Basler ... Marie Avril
Pierre Vial Pierre Vial ... Priest
Philippe Clévenot Philippe Clévenot ... Doctor Chesnet
Isabelle Gruault Isabelle Gruault ... Josephine
Lucienne Hamon Lucienne Hamon ... Hotel manager
Claude Bouchery Claude Bouchery ... School inspector
Olivier Sabran Olivier Sabran ... Doctor
Michel Amphoux Michel Amphoux ... Hotel manager
Anne Cornaly Anne Cornaly ... Alexina's mother
Vincent Pinel Vincent Pinel ... A doctor
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Storyline

In 1856, fresh from life with nuns in an orphanage school, Alexina Barbin comes to a coastal village in La Rochelle to teach the village girls. She is deeply religious. She shares the classroom and a bedroom with the young and vivacious Sara, with whom she falls in love. Alexina has another secret: her gender is mysterious. She and Sara begin a scandalous love affair, but Alexina seeks marriage and social acceptance. She discloses her secrets to the village priest, to her mother, to the bishop, and to the bishop's physician. After the church and court rule on her petition, marriage to Sara becomes Alexina's sole purpose and hope. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

10 January 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alexina See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Ahead of its time
12 November 2005 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

"Mystere Alexina" is a highly underestimated movie.Although it is a true story,the facts it depicts were risqué and its plea for the right to be different has a contemporary feel.René Féret's directing was certainly influenced by that of Robert Bresson,but he occasionally shows a certain warmth which the master never allows himself.

Circa 1850: Alexina who spent her youth in a completely female world (a convent,then a training college)becomes a schoolteacher in a small village.She feels she's different.She does not have her periods.Worse,she falls in love with her colleague (a woman of course).Pretty soon,they become lovers ,as Alexina feels more and more the man in her/him.But one of their pupils (it recalls Wyler's "the children's hour";the difference is that here it is a true rumor) reveals their

relationship.Alexina loses her job and has a physical exam.It would seem that she is an hermaphrodite.There's the rub.The nineteenth century society is not prepared to accept such a "monster" .Victor ,"the wild child" (see Truffaut's movie) was not dangerous for the society-he had appeared earlier in the century- because he was sexless and not really clever.

Alexina wants to marry her/his lover.But the world in which she lives is still dominated by religion and puritanism.The biology lesson is revealing:when she tells her pupils about the frog reproduction ,Alexina does not mention that the male inseminates the eggs (and however it happens in the water).An impressive scene shows Alexina driven out of the confessional by the priest after she's told him the "truth".

Philippe Vuillemin gives a cesar-caliber performance.He is absolutely mind-boggling :even more credible as a woman!

Give this movie a chance!It deserves it!


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