7 January 2003 | R. J.
Idiossyncratic, infuriating non-linear autobiographical fantasia - for director fans only
Werner Schroeter has made his entire career as a sort of cursed outcast of the Fassbinder generation of German cinema, alternating highly personal film projects with stage work, directing both opera and theatre productions. "Deux", written expressly for the great Isabelle Huppert (with whom Schroeter had already worked twice previously), is as idiossyncratic and infuriating as any of his previous work, probably more so because it's designed as a sort of "surrealist autobiography" where the director is actually portrayed as two female characters, apparently twin sisters unaware of each other's existence, both played by Huppert. That's about the extent of what you can actually get out of this non-linear transgender fantasia as far as a "plot" goes, since the film is basically an apparently random (and often impenetrable) collage of episodes in the life of both women and also their mother, without any rhyme or reason other than the baroque, operatic transfiguration of Schroeter's own memories into art for art's sake. There's an undeniable visual talent at work here and Huppert's mesmerizing immersion in Schroeter's peculiar universe is outstanding, but the lack of any narrative landmarks for the viewer to anchor himself to eventually turn "Deux" into a radical, experimental piece aimed squarely at a hardcore niche of arthouse audiences aware and knowledgeable about the director's work.