Isabelle Huppert

The Fisher King

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Abuse of Weakness

In 2004, French director Catherine Breillat (Romance, Fat Girl, The Last Mistress) suffered a massive stroke that left one side of her body paralyzed. In 2007, she met a con man that would eventually bilk her out of over 700,000 Euros. In 2009, she wrote a book about the experience. In 2012, con can Christopher Rocancourt was convicted of the crime and sent to prison. In 2013, she made a movie about it. Understanding that the story of Abuse of Weakness (or “abus de faiblesse,” a French legal term that perfectly describes the film at hand) is actually Breillat’s story isn’t essential to either the film’s power or strength, but it sure helps clarify some things (a few of which haven’t been clarified in Breillat’s own life). Isabelle Huppert stars as bawdy, whipsmart Maud, the film’s version of Breillat, who also happens to be a French director with a signature style (at one point, her work is compared to porn). Within the film’s opening seconds, Maud is in the throes of a stroke, all while tucked into the seeming safety of her own sleigh bed. It’s evident almost immediately that Huppert is about to embark on a true full body performance, and the actress delivers in spades – her body contortions, facial expressions, and lack of mobility are never less than entirely believable, and the result is a terrifyingly uncomfortable film that never lets up on either its audience or its leading lady.


fo_in another country

A beach-set comedic drama isn’t often what comes to mind when you think of South Korean cinema, but writer/director Hong Sang-soo has never been fond of convention. That’s especially apparent when it comes to his preference for nontraditional narrative structures. His films are often broken into sections or chapters with actors and themes recurring throughout to tell a singular or collective tale. His new film, In Another Country, follows this trend but adds a foreign face into the mix in the form of Isabelle Huppert. Hanging out in a tiny seaside town on the west coast of Korea is no teenager’s idea of a good time, and when family strife pushes her indoors one young woman turns to the page to pass the time. She’s an aspiring writer who decides to craft three tales set in the very same village using the people around her as inspiration.



Editor’s note: With Haneke’s latest masterwork finally hitting limited release this week, please fall in love with our AFI FEST review all over again, originally published on November 4, 2012. In Michael Haneke‘s Amour, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) are an older couple who have clearly been together for years, but their loving glances and compliments prove that, despite the years, the love they feel for one another has never faded. Their life together now is one of simple pursuits – a night out here or there, but mainly spending time with one another making meals or reading together in their Paris apartment. At first glance, this may seem like just another couple living out their later years with each other, but when Anne suffers a minor stroke at the breakfast table one morning, the extent and depth of their love is truly put to the test. After an operation to prevent any future strokes fails, Anne is released home, where she makes Georges promise her that he will not let her go back to the hospital. Georges sets about to make their life as comfortable and normal as possible, despite the fact that Anne is now confined to a wheelchair and needs to sleep in a separate, mechanical bed — but one that Georges keeps pushed up against his own.



Police burst into a beautiful Parisian apartment to discover a semi-decomposed elderly woman’s body, arranged painstakingly on her bed, surrounded by flowers. There is duck tape around her bedroom door, preventing the smell from coming into the rest of the apartment. Cut to the woman – alive – coming back home with her husband from a concert. How did this become her heartbreaking end? In Michael Haneke’s beautifully unflinching Palme d’Or winner Amour, he circles back to this opening scene as he tells the story of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and how Anne’s debilitating illness tests the parameters of their love for each other. Amour is a great feat in filmmaking, as its near-perfect direction and performances go to emotive depths very rarely achieved onscreen. Anne and George are vibrant, retired music teachers somewhat estranged from their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), who lives in England with her philandering husband. One morning, Anne prepares Georges a boiled egg for breakfast. She serves it to him, sits at the table, and then suddenly goes blank. She is completely unresponsive to her pleading husband, but as he rushes into his bedroom to start getting help, he hears the running water turn off. When he returns to the kitchen, Anne is just like her normal self and has no recollection of the episode. All seems fine until minutes later when Anne can no longer pour a cup of tea.



David Gordon Green has been talking about helming a remake of Dario Argento’s warped ballet-academy-turned-witch-coven horror movie classic Suspiria for so long that it started to sound like a project that was never really going to happen. But then, a little over a month ago, a press release came out officially naming it as the director’s next project. Suddenly the idea that there was actually going to be a new take on Suspiria coming our way looked a lot more likely. And now that the first round of casting on the film has been completed, cold hard reality has set in. Variety reports that the film’s lead role, that of a young student from America who travels to a well-respected, European ballet academy, has gone to Isabelle Fuhrman. At only the age of 15, Fuhrman is an actress still at the very beginning of her career, but many people might already know her as the creepy little girl in Orphan, or for playing the side character of Clove in this year’s smash hit The Hunger Games.



French actress Isabelle Huppert has been a force in the film world for quite a while now, winning Best Actress awards at Cannes for her work in Violette and The Piano Teacher, and a César for her role in La Cérémonie. Though she’s really only appeared in I Heart Huckabees and episodes of Law & Order: SVU in English-speaking roles (as far as I know?), she’s been a top international actress long enough that most everyone interested in acting and such Stateside should have an idea of who she is. Niels Arden Oplev hasn’t been around the scene for quite as long, but after he took the world by storm directing the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, he solidified his place on the list of filmmakers that everyone is keeping their eyeballs on. His success launching that franchise has led to his latest project, Dead Man Down, signing mainstream names like Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, and Dominic Cooper to its cast. Though shooting on the film started last week in Philadelphia, apparently we’re not at the end of the good news when it comes to its cast.



Africa, more than any other continent, seems destined to be represented cinematically as a place filled with danger, strife, uncertainty, and upheaval. If the wild life or harsh conditions don’t get you a citizenry motivated by fear, religion, or anger most certainly will. But surely there’s joy to be found somewhere within its borders? Some pockets of happiness and smiles? Some village where something as trivial as a Coke bottle can lead to a tale of humor, warmth, and slapstick? No? Nothing? Fine. Let’s take a look at Claire Denis’ bleak, violent, and challenging film White Material instead.



Michael Cimino has gone over budget, beyond his schedule, and generally through hell for Heaven’s Gate. Now his cut is 5 and 1/2 hours long. Is artistic freedom really what Hollywood needs?



Private Property (Nue Propri©t©, au francais) is conspicuously contemporary-French; anyone who’s seen some recent French character pieces like The Bridesmaid or The Piano Teacher should find its aesthetic style familiar, from the digital texture and the long takes to the uncomfortable suggestions of incestuous sexuality.

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published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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