Mrs. Hyde (2017)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B.  France/Belgium, 2017.  

Original title:  Madame Hyde

Les Films Pelléas, Arte France Cinéma, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Frakas Productions, Canal+, Ciné+, Arte France, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Haut et Court Distribution, Cinémage 11, Indéfilms 5, Soficinéma 13, Région Ile-de-France, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique, Casa Kafka Pictures, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter Empowered by Belfius.  Screenplay by Serge Bozon.  Cinematography by Celine Bozon.  Produced by David Thion.  Music by Benjamin Esdraffo.  Production Design by Delphine Capossela.  Costume Design by Delphine Capossela.  Film Editing by Francois Quiquere.

Isabelle Huppert plays a quirky physics teacher who can’t keep her room under control to save her life, blithely ignoring the insults being spewed at her by rowdy teenagers as she tries to get them to care about scientific phenomena.  Her criticizing their love of superheroes, who gain power through magic and not actual knowledge of the universe, is ironically turned on her when her tinkering with her retro-looking toys in her personal laboratory electrocutes her and turns her into a blazing roman candle in the middle of the night.  Unruly classrooms by day and strange walks in the middle of the night result in the improvement of her ability to connect with her classroom, in particular with one student who has an attitude problem and mobility issues, and as she becomes something of a superhero educator she also becomes more connected with the underprivileged kids who live in the giant apartment complexes just beyond her comfortable suburb.  Flimsy and confused, this oddball comedy suggests something by its titular reference to the Robert Louis Stevenson story that is never realized, as Huppert rarely gets to accomplish much as the nocturnal creature, and the development of her regular persona in relation to her alternate reality is never actualized, wasting the efforts of the star, whose slumped shoulders and jerky movements are far from the cool bourgeoises we usually see her playing.  The ultimate Jekyll and Hyde of the story is the world that the film takes place in, but the messages about class and race divides in French society get lost in endless scenes of technobabble that never pay off.

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