Special Treatment (2010)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

Original title:  Sans Queue Ni Tete

France, 2010.  Liaison Cinématographique, Samsa Film, Artémis Productions, Art-Light Productions, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Fonds National de Soutien à la Production Audiovisuelle du Luxembourg, Région Wallone, Bruxelles Capitale, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, La Banque Postale Image 3, Banque Populaire Images 10, Soficinéma 6, Taxshelter. be, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone.  Screenplay by , Jeanne Labrune.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A psychiatrist splits up with his wife and finds himself unable to cope with life, asking a friend to hook him up with a classy prostitute that he has briefly seen. The lady of the night in question (Isabelle Huppert) is growing more and more detached and disinterested in her work and believes that seeing a psychiatrist is the key towards getting her out of the life. The joke in this uneven but not unendurable film by Jeanne Labrune is that both of these people attend to the needs of others at the expense of their own personal development, and, in switching to each other’s worlds, create the opportunity to get themselves back on track. Seeing Huppert outfit herself towards her various clients’ needs—a schoolgirl uniform, leather dominatrix garb or prim housewife with rollers in her hair and knitting needles—is hilariously enthralling, particularly when the ridiculousness of her get-up is contrasted with the sphinx-like nature of her stony gaze and tense smile, but Labrune never really plumbs the depths of either her characters or her story. There is the hint of a theme, something about the uselessness of talking and analysing and the sole saving power of actual doing, but it’s lost amid the aimless dramatics that, while never boring, always feel like a constant second act that never reaches full boil. As a performance opportunity for its star it is a wonderful experience as she once again lights up the screen with her intensity; her bursting the floodgates of her reserve in the last third is very moving, but it would have been a richer experience had she been paired up with an similarly charismatic co-star instead of the colourless cipher of as the shrink.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2010


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