A subversive, psychological thriller with a powerfully enigmatic and utterly mesmerising performance by Isabelle Huppert. Can she do what Marion Cotillard did and what was robbed from Emmanuelle Riva?
Paul Verhoeven, of "Basic Instinct" fame (and "Showgirls" infamy), has directed an oddly exciting, occasionally disturbing, and almost always taut, sexual-psychological thriller. Dealing with multiple issues related to sex from infidelity, jealousy, cougar-ism, rape, power, gender roles, etc, Verhoeven translated these onto the screen with a very Euro (or "French") sensibility. And it is this rather non-sensational - even blasé- portrayal of sex (and all its aspects) that leads the story down an exciting and, almost heretofore, unchartered narrative.
But through it all, the story was anchored by the phenomenal Huppert. Truly, this lady deserves all the accolades and her performance here was mesmerising. Outwardly strong and tough yet occasionally the facades cracks and fragility seeps out; yet, we are always left to wonder if those moments of vulnerability is but a show. Huppert's character remained an intriguing cipher all the way to the end and that really made her so exciting to watch and so fascinating to follow.
Of all the five nominees this year for the Oscar for Best Actress (minus Ruth Negga, sadly have not watched "Loving") it should be a close fight between Huppert and Natalie Portman, with Huppert inching out for her nuanced portrayal over Portman's louder, and slightly more showboating, "Jackie".