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Archive for the ‘Isabelle Huppert’ Category

Amour

27 Jan

Amour – directed by Michael Haneke. Drama. A married couple in their 80s end their time together when the wife suffers a stroke and slowly declines as the husband devotedly cares for her. 127 minutes Color 2012.
★★★★★
If you sit back, if you’re capable of sitting back, you will find yourself in the privileged position of watching a life-and-death process you never imagined you would witness. The direction and filming of this story is so close to its home that one does not seem to be intruding at all, much less watching a film.

The story is very simple. They are retired musicians. They have made their contribution, and when illness overtakes the wife, one of her pupils, a successful concert pianist comes to pay his grateful respects. That tells you everything you need to know about their lives before their present trial. Their daughter comes; she also is a musician; she is on tour; her views of how to handle matters are desperate and understandable – but there is nothing to be done that is not being done well.

All this sounds uneventful, and so it is in a way, because while the death sentence of life hangs in the wings, ordinary life goes on as well. The newspaper is read, the tea is made. But also the patient must be bathed. The diaper must be changed. The straw must be applied to the lips. The husband takes on these tasks. He performs them simply and well.

Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trantignant. I am almost loathe to mention the names of the two actors who plays these two old persons, because they seem to not be acting but simply enacting. The film seems not to be staged, but to unfold in large chapters before my eyes and mine alone. The two characters are often shown, not dead on but at an angle as though I were eavesdropping right there over their shoulder. It doesn’t seem like a film, so much as a record. It left me speechless.

The film is in line for a 2013 Oscar as The Best Foreign film and The Best Film. Emmanuelle Riva is nominated for Best Actress. Michael Haneke for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It won the Palm D’Or at Cannes. You owe it to yourself.

 

La Vie Promise

08 Nov

La Vie Promise –– directed by Olivier Dahan –– drama of a prostitute and her estranged daughter on the lam –– 93 minutes 2002

* * * *

This is a beautifully cast and directed piece – though neither well photographed nor well edited. However, the content of the story is strong, convincing, well worked out, true, and inspiring. At the center of it is the character played by Isabelle Huppert, an actress of incomparable femininity, who understands herself as a woman and an actress on screen to the full. Her performance, and the performances of all the actors, adhere to the French school, which spurns virtuosoism and big effects, for un-actorish stillness and smallness of detail. Remember, when watching it, that French wines tend to be dry. The result is a sense of reality completely at odds with the TV-acting so frequently to be seen nowadays, a skirting of emotionalism that in terms of expected histrionics might seem unreal, but in terms of the material and the story at hand is realism incarnate.  It’s an acquired taste; you have to get used to it a bit. Huppert embodies this school, and she is in all ways wonderful. I won’t even describe the scenes where she achieves great things, because I don’t want to give anything away. She is touching, and so is everyone in it, and so is the picture. The subtitles are good –– and , since the dialogue is leisurely, they are easy to read. This is not a run-of-the-mill piece.

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