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Lady J

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Lady J Movie Poster Image
French drama about infidelity and passion has nudity.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Jilted people will go to great lengths to exact revenge on former lovers. "Happiness that doesn't last is called pleasure."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Marquise is extremely clever, resourceful, and charming. She concocts an elaborate plan to emotionally destroy and humiliate her former lover. He is selfish, insensitive, and focused only on his pleasure and next conquest. A young woman feels terrible for lying.

Violence
Sex

A man hires a prostitute to distract him from his melancholy. Her breasts are shown. A woman born to two unmarried members of the aristocracy is given a good education but abandoned by her parents. She is seduced by another aristocrat but he tricks her and leaves her with a child, forcing mother and daughter to turn to prostitution.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 2019 Lady J is in French with English subtitles and provides a study in passion, infidelity, and the damage both can do to individuals and society. As in Dangerous Liaisons, the role sex plays in life is dealt with frankly, although no sex is shown. Two characters have been driven by circumstances to prostitution. A man and women candidly discuss his reputation as an inconstant lover who flits from one woman to the next, tiring of each once he "conquers" them. When he repeats his pattern with the wrong woman, she sets out to wreak revenge. Adults drink alcohol. A woman's breasts are seen.

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What's the story?

LADY J of the title is an unfortunate born of two unmarried aristocrats who educate her to be a lady but abandon her. When another aristocrat is attracted to her beauty and grace, he fakes a marriage and leaves her with a daughter. Shunned from society, the two turn to prostitution and become an amusing anecdote among Paris society. The story returns to the wealthy and widowed Marquise de Pommeraye (Cecile de France) after she herself is betrayed by a well-known seducer, Marquis des Arcis (Edouard Baer). The Marquis is charming and bright, with a penchant for beautiful women who resist him. He pours that charm on the uninterested Pommeraye for six months before she succumbs. Predictably, he tires of her but she's devastated by the loss. Pretending it is she who has fallen out of love in order to elicit his honest admission that his passion has faded, she summons Lady J (Natalia Dontcheva) and her ethereal daughter (Alice Isaaz) and conceives a plot that will free them from their seedy lives by hooking the unsuspecting Marquis on the beautiful daughter and opening him to ridicule in society.   

Is it any good?

The story cleverly turns on its head the idea that a libertine who takes advantage of women should, in the name of wronged women everywhere, fairly be dealt a well-deserved comeuppance. Pommeraye's ingenious plot plays out in masterly fashion, with Lady J and her daughter performing perfectly, but the perfection starts to cause unease in those rooting for her. She becomes a bit too mean for comfort. Perhaps scoundrels like the Marquis deserve punishment, but viewers may like Pommeraye less as she relishes the pain and destruction she causes, and that will provide interested teens with plenty to discuss.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the Marquise needs so badly to bring pain to someone she once loved. Do you think this demonstrates how closely love and hatred can be linked?

  • Does the scenario the Marquise plans in Lady J seem believable? Why or why not?

  • Although the Marquise first seems to promise a better life to her co-conspirators, she soon seems willing to hurt them as much as she hurts the Marquis. Does this change your opinion of her? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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