Marvin ou la belle éducation [Reinventing Marvin] (2017)

Marvin ou la belle éducation
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Pierre Trividic, Anne Fontaine
Based on: Édouard Louis‘ autobiographical novel En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (translated as The End of Eddy)
Cast: Finnegan Oldfield, Grégory Gadebois, Vincent Macaigne, Catherine Salée, Jules Porier, Catherine Mouchet, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2017
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Plot:
Marvin (Jules Porier) doesn’t have an easy childhood: always the target of homophobic abuse, he sticks out like a sore thumb in his neighborhood. It’s only in the theater class that he really finds relief. So as soon as he is grown (Finnegan Oldfield), he makes his way to the big city to follow his calling to the stage and to maybe make peace with his past.

Marvin, unfortunately, loses itself in clichés which left me at a distance to the characters and frustrated by the lengthy narration.

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Happy End (2017)

Happy End
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Cast: Isabelle HuppertJean-Louis TrintignantMathieu KassovitzFantine HarduinFranz RogowskiLaura VerlindenAurélia PetitToby Jones
Seen on: 12.10.2017
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Plot:
After her mother is admitted to the hospital, Eve (Fantine Harduin) moves in with her father Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his new wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). They all live in Eve’s grandfather Georges’s (Jean-Louis Trintignant) house. Georges is starting to show symptoms of dementia and is desperately trying to keep control of his life. His business has already been taken over by his daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) who struggles with problems at work. In this difficult constellation, it comes as no surprise that secrets start coming to light everywhere.

Happy End, unfortunately, is a weak film, at least for a Haneke film. There was a lot of potential and some very good stuff, but it just doesn’t really come together.

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L’avenir [Things to Come] (2016)

L’avenir
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Writer: Mia Hansen-Løve
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob, Sarah Le Picard, Solal Forte, Elise Lhomeau, Lionel Dray
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2016

Plot:
Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is an enthusiastic philosophy teacher, married to Heinz (André Marcon) for 25 years and has two grown children. She pursues her job with passion above and beyond the call of duty, keeping in touch with former students like Fabien (Roman Kolinka) and publishing school books and essays. The rest of her time is pretty much devoted to caring for her mother (Edith Scob). But then the rug gets pulled out from under her feet. In quick succession, Heinz announces he’s leaving her for another woman, her publisher announces that they can’t afford to publish her things anymore, and her mother moves into a home. Nathalie finds herself suddenly confronted with more liberty than she ever had in her life.

While I appreciate the story, L’avenir is telling, unfortunately it left me pretty cold, despite a great performance by Isabelle Huppert.

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Elle (2016)

Elle
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writer: David Birke
Based on: Philippe Djian‘s novel Oh…
Cast: Isabelle HuppertLaurent LafitteAnne ConsignyCharles BerlingVirginie EfiraJudith MagreChristian Berkel
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2016

[CW: Rape]

Plot:
Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) is the head of a video game company. Successful, rich, happily divorced with two grown children, Michèle has a great life. But that is disrupted when an intruder brutally assaults and rapes her in her home. Afterwards Michèle struggles to get her life back under control, by alternatively pretending that nothing happened and buying various weapons. And it may very well be that this encounter with the rapist won’t be her last.

In the hands of another writer and director, Elle might have been a film that was smart about the difficult topic it approaches and that I would have actually liked. But I absolutely hated the film we got. SO MUCH HATE.

[SPOILERS]

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Louder Than Bombs (2015)

Louder Than Bombs
Director: Joachim Trier
Writer: Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt
Cast: Gabriel ByrneJesse Eisenberg, Devin DruidIsabelle HuppertDavid StrathairnAmy RyanRachel BrosnahanRuby JerinsMegan Ketch
Seen on: 14.1.2016

Plot:
It’s been three years that war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) died in a car crash. An upcoming exhibition of her work that will come with an article by her colleague and friend Richard Weissman (David Strathairn) in which he will out her death as a suicide, brings the unresolved tension her death caused in the Reed family to the foreground again: her widower Gene is struggling with rebuilding his life, but especially with his relationship with his sons: his younger son Conrad (Devin Druid) is withdrawn and doesn’t know that his mother most likely killed herself. Gene’s older son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) comes to town to sort through his mother’s unpublished photos, also conveniently escaping his own life for a while. All three have very different opinions not only on what Isabelle was like, but also how they should deal with her death.

Louder than Bombs tries to be many things at once and maybe it tries a little too much. But even though there is a flightiness about it where it would have needed more decisiveness, it is an engaging film.

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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Director: Ned Benson
Writer: Ned Benson
Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Jess Weixler

Plot:
Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) used to be the perfect couple. But something happened and now they’re not. Eleanor is distant and doesn’t want any contact with Conor and Conor has trouble respecting that boundary. But Eleanor isn’t as done with Conor as it might seem at first and the question remains whether they can find back to each other or not.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was good but not as great as it could have been. I expected a little more from the concept – TDoER: Them is a cut based on two films, TDoER: Him, which tells events from his perspective, and TDoER: Her, which tells them from hers. But the splice generally feels a little uneven.

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Dead Man Down (2013)

Dead Man Down
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writer: J.H. Wyman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, F. Murray Abraham

Plot:
Victor (Colin Farrell) works for criminal Alphonse (Terrence Howard). Alphonse has been receiving threating letters from an anonymous person, the last one attached to the body of one of his employees, and Victor’s best friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper) is supposed to find out who is sending the letters. What he doesn’t know is that Victor is the one sending the letters, enacting a complicated revenge plan. Victor’s entire life revolves around this plan until he is contacted by the woman who lives in the apartment across from him, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). Beatrice was in a car accident and has a scarred face. Now she also wants revenge and thinks that Victor can get it for her.

Dead Man Down creeped up on me. There was practically no marketing, it only got a limited release and it was barely mentioned anywhere. And I really don’t get it. Not only does it have a good cast and a director who made a name for itself (which is very marketable) – the film was absolutely fantastic.

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Amour [Love] (2012)

Amour
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell

Plot:
Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have been married since about forever. Now well into their eighties, they have a comfortable routine with each other. But that routine is interrupted when one morning, Anne seems to fade out for a little while. After a check at the hospital, it turns out that Anne had a stroke which is only the starting point for her slowly falling apart.

Amour is a slow movie that tells its story calmly. Nevertheless it never gets boring. The story is just that absorbing and engaging.

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