Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. Italy/Luxembourg/Belgium, 2007. Cristaldi Pictures, Tarantula, Backup Media, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Soho Films, Tarantula, Umedia, uFilm. Screenplay by Alessandro Capone, Luca D’Alisera, based on the book by Danièle Girard. Cinematography by Luciano Tovoli. Produced by Massimo Cristaldi, Mark Hammond. Music by Riccardo Fassi, Butch Morris. Production Design by Marta Zani. Costume Design by Uli Simon. Film Editing by Roberto Perpignani. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
One gets the impression that the word “harrowing” was invented simply to make sure we’d never run out of ways to describe Isabelle Huppert. In this dark, melancholy film, she plays a woman who is in the hospital following a suicide attempt. Her psychiatrist (Greta Scacchi) seeks to plumb the depths of her depression and finds that Huppert is afflicted by a deep resentment for her daughter whom she has despised from the time she gave birth to her. Meanwhile, the daughter shows up at the doctor’s office and insists that her mother is making everything up for attention. While it strikes a few false notes (including a third act plot change that comes out of nowhere), this is at times a deeply felt and intelligent examination of human sadness, bolstered out of any melodramatic possibilities by Huppert’s fiercely committed and unflinching performance. Scacchi holds her own as the compassionate therapist, while Mélanie Laurent is merely window dressing as the daughter, a role that is too thinly written and gives the actress very little to do, robbing the story of many layers in the process.