Before there was Sigmund Freud, there was Jean-Martin Charcot, a 19th-century doctor researching women's hysteria. His star patient — or rather his star guinea pig — was a young maid who suffered from unexplained seizures. Filmmaker Alice Winocour's moody Augustine tells the story of their entangled, complex relationship. He pokes and prods her naked body, induces her seizures on cue as demonstrations for medical colleagues, each attack more closely mimicking sexual ecstasy. As his dependence on her to prove his medical theories grows, there are small, almost imperceptible shifts in the balance of power between the two. Usually mute, she begins to ask questions (''Will you cure me?''). After a midnight visit to her room (supposedly to observe her seizures while sleeping), he's lost. Marian Luntz, curator for film and video at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, says Winocour ''is very effective at evoking Augustine's point of view, especially how she changes as she becomes aware of what is happening.'' The film and its stars — French singer/actress SoKo as Augustine and Vincent Lindon as Charcot — got positive reviews from critics and audiences alike following screenings at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals. Screening in French with English subtitles, Augustine is part of the MFAH Film Premieres series.
7 p.m. Saturdays. Through August 24. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Sat., Aug. 17, 7 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 24, 7 p.m., 2013
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