5 August 2010 | guy-bellinger
This Summer's divine surprise
Spectators who will go and see 'Copacabana' to have a good time will not be disappointed because writer-director Marc Fitoussi's last film IS a warm-hearted comedy but it is also much more than that. And it is always pleasant to get MORE than what was expected than the contrary, isn't it?
What they will get first is Isabelle Huppert as Babou, the central character, frolicking, laughing,dancing in cafés, wearing flashy dresses and thick make-up. A welcome change from her usual grave, restrained, suffering self in recent movies. And with the support of a bunch of funny actors and actresses (Luis Rego, as Babou's bashful old lover; Noémie Lvovsky, as her disillusioned former friend; Chantal Banlier, irrepressible as her business rival) and well-written witty dialogs, the comedic aspect of the film is undeniably a success.
But 'Copacabana' is not just a straight comedy. Marc Fitoussi's tale of an eccentric mother who tries to win back her daughter is much more complex and much richer than what you could expect. For the film is also philosophical (to what extent can you remain free in society, especially when you have children?), psychological (the conflict between Babou who wants to remain off the beaten track and Esmeralda, her daughter who wishes, as a reaction, a steady middle-class life, is well dissected), satiric (the dubious methods of time-share business are denounced), documentary (Ostend, on the Belgian sea-coast has rarely been filmed in the off-season), ethnological (the Flemish shown in the film are real people) and social (the young homeless couple episode).
And the miracle is that 'Copacabana' is so well written that all these aspects blend together harmoniously. You follow this seamless story from its beginning to its end effortlessly, until the final surprise (which I am afraid will remain a surprise until you see the film).
'Copacabana' is a well made film that doesn't overwhelm you but seeps into your brain and your heart. A feel-good movie that never falls into the trap of over-simplification. A kind of Gallic Capra-esquire comedy that makes love, intelligence and eccentricity meet to everybody's delight.