With "The Mad Women's Ball," the actress and filmmaker Mélanie Laurent delivers a handsome, disturbing adaptation of Victoria Mas's 2019 novel. Lou de Laâge stars as Eugenie, the daughter of an aristocratic family who is exploring all of the intellectual and artistic pursuits
19th-century France has to offer; Eugenie is also prone to occasional psychic fits, during which she communicates with "spirits." Whether because of these episodes or her unwillingness to submit to her father's bourgeois expectations, Eugenie is committed to the notorious La Salpêtrière hospital, where she discovers a community of women similarly warehoused for the "sickness" of resisting abuse, injustice and patriarchal norms. Laurent casts herself as a nurse named Geneviève, whose initial severity gives way to something more humane and vulnerable. With a shrewd eye for casting and attractive production values, she plunges viewers into the voyeurism and cruelty that drove what passed for treatment at Salpêtrière, which was headed by the real-life neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Grégoire Bonnet). The title event — an actual annual ritual at the hospital — is staged as a heartbreaking spectacle. If what occurs in its aftermath feels unconvincing and perfunctory, "The Mad Women's Ball" illuminates a fascinating and disquieting chapter in medical and social history. Unrated. Available on Amazon. Contains nudity, brief crude language, smoking, disturbing situations and mature themes. In French with subtitles. 121 minutes.

— Ann Hornaday

Also streaming

The documentary “A la Calle” looks at the protests by ordinary Venezuelans to reclaim their democracy from the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. The New York Times calls the film a “vital snapshot” of an ongoing crisis. TV-MA. Available on HBO Max. Contains strong language and violence. In Spanish and English with subtitles. 110 minutes.

A young book editor at a failing publishing house (Aubrey Plaza) sets out on a book tour with one of her authors (Michael Caine), a cantankerous alcoholic who once put the publisher on the map in the dramedy “Best Sellers.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, “The humor becomes overtaken by the contrived plot mechanics, which eventually include several melodramatic revelations and an ending practically scientifically engineered to get tears flowing.” Unrated. Available on demand. 100 minutes.

The Nowhere Inn” is a
meta-mockumentary about the making of a documentary about musician Annie Clark — who performs under the name St. Vincent — by her friend, musician and actor Carrie Brownstein (“Portlandia”). (Clark and Brownstein are friends in real life.) According to Variety, “The film can feel so clever it gives you a headache, even before it plays itself off with a blast of David Lynchian reverb. Yet one senses there’s much more film work ahead for the mutable Miss Clark when she’s ready to set aside both of her identities to play wholly fictional characters. After all, she says, ‘I know who I am. What does it matter if anyone else does?’ ” Unrated. Available on Apple TV and other on demand platforms; also opening at Bow Tie’s Reston Town Center 11.
92 minutes.

On the heels of “The Lost Leonardo,” “Savior for Sale: Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece” is a second documentary about the “Salvator Mundi,” a painting of Jesus Christ discovered a few years ago and believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci. Unrated. Available on demand. In English and French with subtitles.
95 minutes.

From executive producer Morgan Freeman, “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” is a fact-based drama about the final hours in the life of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. (Frankie Faison), an elderly Black veteran with bipolar disorder who was killed in 2011 during a conflict with police. Unrated. Available on demand. 83 minutes.