Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 50
    It wouldn't feel out of place on a double bill with "Dangerous Liaisons," given Breillat's unrepentantly nihilistic attitude toward the battle of the sexes in which all are pawns, every knight is errant, and the only queen is Queen Bitch.
  2. 83
    The Last Mistress turns the melodramatic pieties of films like Fatal Attraction inside out. The anti-heroine acts like a vampire in reverse: Even when she drinks the anti-hero's blood, she makes him feel more alive.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Cool, carnal, and lethal, The Last Mistress is a period drama with a difference.
  4. Breillat may be serious about creating period ambience, but she also can't resist patterning her heroine after Marlene Dietrich's Concha in "The Devil Is a Woman" (even though Argento sometimes suggests Maria Montez in the pleasure she takes in her own company).
  5. 88
    A passionate and explicit film about sexual obsession.
  6. The picture's visual style is clean, exact and beautifully photographed by Yorgos Arvanitis.
  7. Decorous to a fault, in the manner of middling Eric Rohmer talkfests, it's a film that could use some shaking up.
  8. Breillat, the flamethrower who made "Romance" and "Fat Girl," artfully twists period-piece drama to suit her provocative modern notions about sex, gender roles, and power.
  9. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    Here Breillat directs one of the most thrilling actresses working today, and the latter makes this calculated study into a tale brimming with passion and sorrow.
  10. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    The Catherine Breillat-directed period piece is an extreme cinematic pleasure, a well-told yarn of merciless desire.
  11. Though Argento and Aattou lack the searing chemistry needed, the social politics are consistently intriguing, and everything - not to mention everyone -looks absolutely stunning.
  12. 88
    Beautifully composed, The Last Mistress, Breillat's 11th film, deals with the theme she has put forth in such previous work as "Romance" and "Fat Girl": how women deal with sexual desire.
  13. Lush. Debauched. Ravishing. And did I mention sexy?
  14. 75
    What's different here is the setting: Instead of modern-day misogyny, the heroine of The Last Mistress is up against its 19th-century version.
  15. 50
    Perhaps it's the lack of sex or perhaps it's the incessant, banal chattering of the characters, but this movie is more likely to inspire sleep than interest. Breillat has done something I never expected from her: made a boring film.
  16. 90
    This explicit movie about a sexually insatiable 19th century courtesan emerges like an erotic dream.
  17. Breillat is inviting us to really look at sex as it occurs in life, and to engage with it mentally, as a driving mystery of human existence.
  18. Seems like very tame stuff, with little in the way of graphic sex and all the baggage of a run-of-the-mill art-house costume drama.
  19. 83
    Given their reputations as feminist provocateurs, the coming together of Breillat and Argento seems natural, even inevitable, and The Last Mistress gets a charge from their feisty, uncompromising spirit.
  20. Reviewed by: Kamal AL-Solaylee
    The Last Mistress proves that Breillat has found something in the luscious language of the 19th century that makes sense to us today.
  21. What’s explicit here is ravenous passion and the depiction of desire as a creating, destroying force that invades the very flesh. It's terribly French.
  22. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Under the beautifully appointed costumes and to-die-for interiors is Breillat's preoccupation with female sexuality and desire, all centered on a blistering performance from a perfectly cast Asia Argento.
  23. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    Adapting a book by semi-notorious novelist and critic Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (1808-89), Breillat freely stamps her strong and singular feminine insights on a man's material.
  24. 90
    A highly entertaining adaptation of French dandy Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly's mid-19th-century novel Une vieille maîtresse.
  25. 70
    Argento and Aattou deliver appropriately outsize performances to fit the movie's sense of extravagant escapism, and Claude Sarraute delivers a slyly witty performance as the elderly lady carried away by Ryno's Scheherazade-like tale.

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