I've been watching & thoroughly enjoying Isabelle Huppert's films since 'The Lacemaker'. This time, what struck me was the intensity of Huppert's next-to-passive, almost casually indifferent postures of contempt for her husband. It is because of her being so minimal and apathetic that her performance harnesses its power and devastation. And this is what enhances Greggory's reactive performance as being so complementary, that of a once smug now tortured soul who slips and struggles to re-grasp a heart turned cold. He's just left grabbing air in the end. The looks on the faces of the chorus, their social clique & the servants in the troubled Hervey household says it all.
Going in, I was reminded of another story of martial discord, David Hughes Jone's 'Betrayal' but 'Gabrielle' hit me as being more incisive and oppressive than anything I've seen adapted for Pinter. I don't need to state the obvious that parlor films of this variety appeal only to those with an acquired taste. As for me, I can only say that I prefer the ice cubes that go with my scotch jagged & stinging cold like the ingredients in this film.
Script brilliantly engineered like Earnhardt's Childress 3800 V6
Absolute genius! Don't let all the low IQ noise deceive you. From a writing standpoint, the script & dialog is as engineered as Earnhardt's Monte Carlo. Talladega's non-apologetic & self-depreciating at the same time & not afraid to flaunt itself (even the Brokeback stuff). I mean, even references to Walker Texas Ranger, Perrier & Halliburton, Brilliant! Like it or not, Ferrell & McKay aren't even from the Chicken Fried South (So Calif. & Philly I think) yet stereotypes aside, they've given the modern South more honest affection (w/worts & all) & pop-movie soul than any of its cousins from 'Smokey & The Bandit' to the PC neutered 'Dukes of Hazzard'.
Animal House, Caddyshack, Blues Brothers, Lampoon's Vacation, even Van Wilder, now Talladega...The Saturday Nite Live alumni track record lives on!
After over 20 years, I can say that I do miss this type of coming of age film (Breaking Away, My Bodyguard, 400 Blows) done before the modern age of jaded irony & cynicism. It's for those old enough to miss the young subjects of Truffaut, only without the melancholy. Even the cheesy but sprightly tunes invite nostalgia. Like Bardot before Marceau, her precocious innocence here holds up against French frankness. Sophie has yet to recapture the same appeal even after limited exposure to her more grown-up international efforts (Braveheart, 007), even Lambert Wilson's mature exposure (Matrix Reloaded, Catwoman) come off now as well, ironic & cynical.
An absolutely diabolical & manic wuxia satire of the clan feuds variety. Like the best of medieval Shakesperean tradition, a fanatical air of twisted alliances between members of both sides blur the line between good & evil. Sell out the ones you love to veil deception and to maintain their antic dispositions. You even sell out your headless self. For in the end, you justify your own morality with arsenic in your raised chalice and declare your crest the victor (if anybody's still alive that is).
Surreptitious loyalties exist in a maniacal framework switching sides as many an occasion as there's a hidden blade within a blade within a blade and with this, Chu Yuan's Jacobean flavored prism of blood, we are staring into two mirrors directly facing each other. Ti Lung walks the tightrope against type with his squeaky clean screen image. Like an evil inbred brother to the more insular 'Soul of the Sword', 'Jade Tiger' is Ti Lung and Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers at it's swashbuckling darkest. Yea anon, sharpen ye rapiers and let the bloodletting begin. Three and a half outta four kills.