Emmanuelle Devos gives an astonishing performance as the volatile, bisexual, pioneering feminist writer Violette Leduc, whose stormy life intersected with the giants of the post-war French literary world – Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jean Genet, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Director Martin Provost, who showed his affinity for outsider artists in Seraphine, shuns stuffy biopic conventions as he follows Leduc from her asexual marriage to the gay writer Maurice Sachs to her arrival in Paris, where she comes under the wing of her stern, imperious mentor, de Beauvoir, uncannily captured by Sandrine Kiberlain. De Beauvoir opens all of Paris’ intellectual doors to Leduc, but our brilliant, difficult heroine, brought to voluptuous life by Devos, wants even more.