(out of 5)
Werner Schroeter dedicates this madness to Isabelle Huppert explicitly in the credits, and it is easy to see why: his elliptical narrative, outrageous visuals and the fact that Huppert is cast in two roles as twin sisters suggest the inspiration of an actress whose directors count on her to go as far as possible (and she does not disappoint). Somewhere in the randomly edited scenes there is the distant spectre of a story: twin sisters (conveniently named Maria and Magdalena) are separated at birth, one of them thwarted by love and the pursuit of art while the other follows the trail of their birth mother (played with unapologetic verve by Bulle Ogier). I really was doing my best to figure it out, so don’t write and tell me I got anything wrong; the thing about movies like Schroeter’s, which exist so very much in an ephemeral world, is that if no two people ever see the same film in general, that is doubly true when watching his. What most fascinates about the auteur’s work, however, is that while it is often frustrating and impenetrable, it’s not actually bad; difficult as it is to enter his world, its elements are undeniably compelling and ripely appealing, particularly in this case for a fan of the lead actress who really gets to shine. How often are you going to see Isabelle Huppert’s undead corpse paraded down a beach, strapped to poles that are being operated by fellow players like a giant human marionette, while overseen by Arielle Dombasle painted up as a magical “Djinn”? If you’re going to be outrageous, it’s good to be committed, and on that score Schroeter does not flag for an instant.
Directed by Werner Schroeter
Screenplay by Cedric Anger, Werner Schroeter
Cinematography by Elfi Mikesch
Production Design by Alberte Barsacq
Costume Design by Alberte Barsacq
Film Editing by Juliane Lorenz