Opening within a month of each other is the Audrey Tautou starring drama “Thérèse” and the Elizabeth Olsen fronted thriller “Therese.” The title (minus the accents on the former) isn’t the only thing the two projects have in common: Both are period projects, headlined by recognizable stars and based on famous French novels (Tatou’s project is based on “Thérèse Desqueryroux” by François Mauriac; Olsen’s, on Emile Zola’s scandalous novel, “Thérèse Raquin”) centered on repressed women stuck in a loveless marriages.
When the Tautou film, which marks the final film of the late Claude Miller, premiered back at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival as the closing night film, it went by the book’s title, “Thérèse Desqueryroux,” so we called up MPI Pictures head Marie Therese Guirgis (who’s releasing the film) to suss out why they chose to go with a potentially conflicting title instead of sticking with the old one.
“Well, that movie [the Olsen one] also changed their name,” she said. “It was called ‘Therese Raquin’ when it was in production. When we changed the title, there was no sense that there was a film out there with the same title.” As for why they changed it, Guirgis said it just came down to the fact that “Desqueryroux” isn’t easy to pronounce, even for the French. “There’s even a line in the movie where one of the characters says her last name is hard to pronounce,” she said. “It’s never good for a movie title to have a totally unpronounceable name.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” she added. “There’s enough time between the two release dates, and one’s in English and one’s (ours) is in French. Now writers can focus on the fact that there are two film adaptations of two of the best French novels ever written.”
Earlier this month we posted the first still of Olsen in “Therese,” which opens September 27, and today, we’re pleased to premiere the poster, an Indiewire exclusive, for the Tautou film, out in select theaters August 23.