Nelly Kaplan, whose witty, satire-tinged French movies about feminine empowerment and revenge made her a particular voice in a male-dominated period, died on Nov. 12 in Geneva. She was 89.
The Société des Réalisateurs de Movies, the French filmmakers’ affiliation, announced her dying on its web site. French information companies, quoting a relative, stated the trigger was Covid-19.
Ms. Kaplan, who was born in Argentina, arrived in Paris in her early 20s and have become each a filmmaking and a romantic companion of Abel Gance, the French director identified for the progressive silent film “Napoleon” (1927). In 1969 she drew acclaim together with her first function, “A Very Curious Lady.” (The French title was “La Fiancée du Pirate,” or “The Pirate’s Fiancée.”)
It starred Bernadette Lafont, an actress already well-known from the New Wave movies of Claude Chabrol and others, as Marie, a younger servant who’s preyed upon by males in her village till she turns the tables on them by charging for sexual favors and tape-recording the encounters, finally exposing the townspeople’s hypocrisy.
That movie was the centerpiece of “Wild Things: The Ferocious Films of Nelly Kaplan,” a retrospective on the Quad Cinema in Manhattan in 2019 that helped gas a brand new appreciation of her work and her characters.
“Whereas very a lot of its time, ‘A Very Curious Lady’ stays amazingly recent after 50 years,” the movie critic J. Hoberman wrote in The Occasions then. “Marie’s triumph is not only a victory for her intercourse and sophistication however, given the explicitly xenophobic nature of the smug patriarchal order that she upends, a win for outsiders and outcasts of all varieties.”
Ms. Kaplan made just a few function movies after that, and none achieved the extent of acclaim that her debut did.