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Villa Amalia review

by Toni Garden. Published Wed 02 Jun 2010 08:14, last updated: 20/07/10

After witnessing her partner, Thomas kissing another woman in the dead of night, Ann makes a decision that sets her free from her life and without hesitation takes the opportunity to begin again.

It sounds like the tale of a woman having a midlife crisis and slight overreaction to a cheating man but this quiet French film offers something more than just a midlife melt down.

The fifth collaboration between director, Benoît Jacquot and legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert makes for a sensual exploration of self.

Ann or Elaine as she was once known, despite having a successful career as a concert pianist and composer is unsatisfied and restless and Thomas’ infidelity acts as the catalyst for her departure from the mundane. Selling all material goods, doing away with bank accounts and even binning her old clothes, Ann disappears from all records, keeping only one old acquaintance, George as a source of contact to her old life.

Reminiscent of Tilda Swinton’s performance in I am Love, Isabelle Huppert can seem detached from her character with quiet moments of solitude being followed by brisk exits that leave an audience wondering if it was real or fantasy.

Huppert’s portrayal explores the nature of self and identity without the need for dialogue: A truly talented actress who can convey Ann’s inner dialogue with a brief look.

This is a hypnotising tale that is beautifully constructed by Jacquot’s direction and visually evolving with the character as she discovers a new life.

On selected cinema release from June 25.


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