7 August 2014 | paul_imseih
An extraordinarily subtle and ultimately devastating film....
Having just watched this film at the Melbourne Film Festival where Breillat introduced the film, I can say that it is the most approachable and moving film she has made in recent memory.
While the film reduces Breillat's usual focus on sexuality and sexual power, it more than makes up for in its humane but disturbing focus on other power elements in relationships within and across modern bourgeois families and those classes below. I think that too few reviewers miss the class critique presented by Breillat but it is there and adds a whole new layer of significance to this film.
Basing the story on her own real-life experience of being defrauded by a major con, this autobiographical account of sudden disability from stroke and the manipulative strangers who take advantage of her sets up an austere, quietly unsettling premise as a platform for Isabelle Huppert's extraordinary performance as Breillat's alter-ego, Maud.
Whereas Breillat's previous films sometimes fail in her use of non-professional actors lacking range or depth of performance, Huppert fills this role with a technical brilliance and emotional and intellectual depth that allows the viewer to gain some hold on the rationale behind a woman's almost willing complicity in a swindling of which she is the unfortunate target. The word "victim" hardly seems appropriate here. Breillat and Huppert are reaching for something else.
You'll need to see the film to reach your own conclusion of this elusive "something else". It's enough to say that the film remains gripping throughout and thoroughly watchable, not least for the shimmering, alchemical performance by Huppert who is at the height of her powers in this performance.