Winner of the prestigious Prix Louis-Delluc for 2016, A Woman’s Life brings a formalistic rigor to Guy de Maupassant’s essential French novel Une Vie; the result is a rare costume drama that refuses to romanticize the world it depicts. Spanning the life of the aristocratic but essentially powerless Baroness Jeanne Le Perthius des Vauds, the saga begins in Normandy 1819, when Jeanne is leaving the convent where she has been raised and educated. Jeanne’s sheltered and idyllic upbringing sets her up for a lifetime of bitter disappointments beginning with an arranged marriage to Julien de Lamare. Her imagined prince charming quickly turns into a philandering ne’er-do-well after he gains control of Jeanne’s inheritance. Tight framing, elliptical scenes, and shifting timelines lend immediacy to this moving depiction of a woman boxed in by a repressive society organized first and foremost to preserve the privilege of a few highborn men. Judith Chemla’s meticulous performance as Jeanne earned a nomination for a 2017 Best Actress César Award.