The Lives of Thérèse

The remarkable Thérèse Clerc evolved from a ‘subdued’ French housewife in the 50s, accepting the role society and upbringing allotted her, to a woman deeply engaged in successive eras of feminist activism. She fought for the legalisation of abortion and came out as a lesbian later in her life, while raising her four children – who all claim to have had ‘a different mother’, depending on what phase of development Thérèse was experiencing at the time. Confronted by the final stages of terminal illness, this indefatigable woman asked director Sébastien Lifshitz to accompany her ‘to the end’, to witness that which is so rarely talked about: ageing and death. This graceful and compelling celebration of her many lives, past and present, reminiscences through archival footage and her children’s tales evoked around a kitchen table. In the lingering shots of Thérèse’s lovely face, it offers a tender, unsentimental portrait of a woman, and by way of it, reveals the bonds of friendship and profound respect between filmmaker and subject.