Villa Amalia (2009)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5.

France/Switzerland, 2009.  Rectangle Productions, EuropaCorp, Point Prod, France 2 Cinéma, , France 2, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Sofica Europacorp, Cinémage 3, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Ile-de-France, Procirep, Angoa-Agicoa, La Commission du Film en Bretagne.  Screenplay by Benoit Jacquot, in collaboration with , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Isabelle Huppert plays a concert pianist who witnesses her live-in boyfriend kissing another woman. At the same time she runs into an old friend () from her youth with whom she becomes close again. Disillusioned by this sad revelation in her life, and possibly determined to not let anything surprise her with such devastation again, she decides to walk away from her life entirely. She cancels her future performance bookings, disconnects her phone, sells her pianos, her apartment and her car, gets rid of her bank account and high tails it to Italy where she lives incognita.  Benoit Jacquot has been exploring the trajectories of characters who make complete breaks from their lives in many of his films in recent years (The Untouchable, Seventh Heaven) and this one is not that much more revealing than any of the others. Huppert’s motivations are obscure rather than mysterious, and there are enough ellipses in the narrative to make the film confusing and frustrating rather than complex. The only benefits are gorgeous locales, particularly when Huppert reaches her exotic destination, and the lead actress herself, who is far more charismatic and sympathetic than the women Jacquot has had playing these roles in his other similarly-minded films. Her decisions are made in the spirit of curiosity and vulnerability, which is so much more bearable than Jacquot’s more frequent collaborator Isild Le Besco, who in his films tends to come off as ignorant and illogical by comparison.


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