One of Depardieu’s earliest films, it proved such a breakout performance for the young actor, his career following Maîtresse could only be described as meteoric. Depardieu starred in over two dozen films in the next decade. In fact the finished script of Maîtresse languished for almost a decade, until Schroeder found Gérard Depardieu—for him, the only possible actor to play the male lead. The cinematographer was the legendary Nestor Almendros, a long-time collaborator with Schroeder. The film’s main character, Ariane (Ogier, in a stunning performance) is a professional dominatrix, and the film originally provoked a good deal of controversy in the United States and the U.K. because of its subject matter and real and graphic depictions of sado-masochistic behavior (including whipping and nailing a client’s penis into a plank). Maîtresse was considered so scandalous on release, it was banned in England. Today, the film is considered a cult classic. Trivia: 1) Naturally all of Maitresse’s “clients” undergoing punishment are not actors, they are S/M enthusiasts that Schroeder had met through a Parisian madam, and who agreed to participate in the film. 2) Famed British artist Allen Jones, who specializes in erotica and fetish, created the Maitresse poster (the first image in the Photo Gallery).
DVD: criterion collection