powered by AFI
The schoolmistress of a remote French farming village is a seemingly prim and introverted young spinster. Beneath her calm exterior, however, Mademoiselle is filled with suppressed sexual desires that erupt into secret acts of violence and wanton destruction. Opening floodgates to drown farm stock, setting fire to barns and homes, poisoning animals' drinking water, and smashing the nests of field birds, she takes perverse carnal pleasure in the havoc she causes. The outraged villagers, needing someone to blame for the series of disasters, turn against a lusty woodcutter, Manou, who has recently moved into the community as the leader of an Italian work crew. A widower whose 15-year-old son, Bruno, attends Mademoiselle's classes, Manou is resented by the local men because of the animal magnetism he exerts over women, a magnetism he exploits to the fullest. One day, the schoolmistress, incensed by Manou's indifference to her, lures him into a field and seduces him by crawling on her stomach and licking his hands and boots like a dog. Afterwards she returns to the village, her clothing torn and splattered with mud, and flatly states that Manou raped her. The mounting anger of the village men now bursts into frenzy, and they seek Manou out and stone him to death. Her passions momentarily sated, the schoolmistress accepts the sympathy of her neighbors, packs her few belongings, and leaves the village. Bruno alone knows her secret and the part she played in his father's death.