Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/Belgium, 2010. Avenue B Productions, Arte France Cinema, Mars Films, C.R.R.A.V. Nord Pas de Calais, Caviar Films, Région Picardie, Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, Canal+, CineCinema, TV5 Monde, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Banque Populaire Images 9. Screenplay by Marc Fitoussi. Cinematography by Helene Louvart. Produced by Caroline Bonmarchand. Music by Tim Gane, Sean O’Hagan. Production Design by Michel Barthelemy. Costume Design by Leila Adjir. Film Editing by Martine Giordano.
Babou (Isabelle Huppert) has never allowed herself to be tied down by life; after having spent years moving from place to place without ever holding down a proper job, she finds herself living in Paris, broke, jobless and estranged from her daughter Esme (Lolita Chammah, Huppert’s real-life daughter) whose resentment for her is almost magnificent. When Esme announces that she is getting married, Babou is delighted but also worried about her inability to contribute financially, a situation which is resolved when Esme tells her that she does not want her to attend the wedding. Wounded and angry at this development, Babou accepts a job working in Belgium as a sales representative for a vacation apartment timeshare development which, despite her lack of experience in all things professional, turns out to be something of a success: and why not? Her personality is as big a swindle as that business is. Thankfully, what makes this film by Marc Fitoussi, one of the millions ever made about unfocused women getting their life together in the nick of time, so watchable and compelling is the creation of a character who is no small mess but who is also endearing and amicable. Babou makes friends easily and goes with life’s flow, but she doesn’t take people for granted even though she reserves her most destructive behaviour for herself. Huppert is a knockout in the lead, the richest and most fun role she’s had in years, flouncing around in her Audrey Hepburn hairdo and garish makeup without ever becoming irritating, and her charismatic presence is another key reason why this film’s healthy running time goes by in a flash.