Get local news delivered straight to your phone
We can't make City Paper without you
Little known outside France, Jean Grémillion made several acclaimed features before and during World War II but struggled artistically after that. His penultimate film, 1951’s The Strange Madame X, appears to be the sort of movie that was then rapidly losing favor. It’s formal and talky, with burnished images and discreet camera movements. Yet the seldom seen drama is weirder than it looks. It observes the dual lives of Irène, who’s the wife of a wealthy publisher and the lover of a younger and considerably less worldly cabinetmaker. She’s comfortable in both worlds, but eventually they must messily intersect. Although hardly a work of social realism, the movie is an oblique return to the director’s 1928 debut, Maldone. The tale of a rich man who prefers the life of a canal mule driver, that movie is more clearly about The Strange Madame X’s buried subject: the French class system. The film shows at 2:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215.