It is sometimes considered sulphurous, even obscene. Hemiplegic after a stroke, ruined by “star scammer” Christophe Rocancourt, Catherine Breillat claims transgression by filming desire, sex and love violence.

Seventeen years after An Old Mistress, the filmmaker returns to Cannes on Thursday with Last Summer, the story of a lawyer who puts her life and her family in danger by having an affair with her teenage stepson. She has not shot a film since Abuse of Weakness (2013), with Isabelle Huppert and Kool Shen, adaptation of her autobiographical novel on “the Rocancourt affair”.

“I took blows, often. Hemiplegia has made me half a corpse. But of all the things that happened to me, Christophe Rocancourt was the worst,” she writes in this book. A humiliation that she tells openly in her interviews, with this energy of life that has remained intact and always also this nervous and almost childish, even annoying little laugh.

When she meets him, she knows of course that he has already been in prison in the United States for fraud. She spotted him on TV for a future movie and thinks she’s stronger than him. But she in turn falls into the trap and is fleeced. “It’s happening before your eyes and with your complicity,” she says. She the carnivore, always mistress of her life, still does not explain this grip which cost her more than 700,000 euros.

Or rather if. When she was at her worst, “there he was…” and wrapped “like a vine” around her disjointed body, stricken with hemiplegia and epileptic seizures since a stroke in 2005. she now calls “Rat Face” will be sentenced to eight months in prison for abuse of weakness.

Daughter of a doctor born on July 13, 1948 in Bressuire (Deux-Sèvres), she grew up in Niort with a sister a year older than her, Marie-Hélène, who would become an actress. With her baccalaureate at 16, she moved to Paris with her sister, enrolling in Oriental Languages. She dreams of writing and making movies. She will do both. His first novel, at 17, The Easy Man, is prohibited for those under 18, because “It was a bit pornographic for the time”.

After playing a small role with her sister in The Last Tango in Paris (1972), by Bertolucci, she wrote a new novel which she immediately adapted for the cinema. A real young girl, which includes scenes deemed pornographic again, will not be released until 20 years later.

She shocked again with Tapage nocturne (1979), banned for children under 18 and crushed by critics. “I saw the hatred against me,” she will say. She then began to write scripts for others: Federico Fellini (And the ship sails…) and Maurice Pialat (Police) in particular.

She returns behind the camera and finally finds success with Parfait amour! (1996) then Romance (1999) and Anatomy of Hell (2004), where she recruited the international X standard, Rocco Siffredi. Works preceded by a scent of scandal and a somewhat touted image of “hard” films.

Some extol the audacity of his vision of female sexuality and carnal confrontation, others judge sex according to Breillat talkative and frigid. The filmmaker refuses labels and prefers to say that she likes to break taboos and “revolutionize old aesthetic codes”.

“In TV programs, I sometimes read that my films were classified in the “erotic” category. I do the opposite of erotica! My movies are cold, they’re really disgusting,” she scoffs. In full

Always this taste for provocation for this brunette with blue eyes, mother of three children. “I don’t think the world is beautiful enough, so I slaughter it,” she smiles.