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Louise, younger sister, natural and straightforward, lives in province; Martine, older sister, beautiful and aloof, lives in the Parisian upper middle class. Louise has written a novel. On Monday she will go for an appointment with a publisher in Paris, which may change her life. She comes to live with Martine for three days. During three days, Louise and her obvious happiness exasperate Martine and set her life in glares..... Written by
Better-than-average quality for French Cinema of today
First of all, the DVD of this film is now available in France ( Sept 10th 2005 ) It contains both French and English subtitles ( wonders will never cease !! ) plus numerous boni which are subtitled in French only !
Although French cinema had a heyday in the thirties, forties and even the beginning of the nineteen fifties, the general criticism applied to it at the end of the twentieth and first years of the twenty first century is that the films are "mou" or flabby. There may be a good idea now and then in the initial premise, but that doesn't necessarily make for viewer satisfaction in the "salles de cinéma" if the film itself is not carried out in a vivacious and lively way.
Happily, there are exceptions that confirm the general rule and "Les Soeurs Fâchées" is one of them. With a very limited plot ( one lady from the provinces making a visit to Paris and staying with her sister there ) the director has given us 90 minutes of excellent character study and percussive, cutting dialogue !! Both Catherine Frot and Isabelle Huppert put in truly magnificent performances in this film and let me assure the would-be spectator that there is not one boring moment ! Isabelle Huppert, beautifully freckly and good looking though she is has always had a tendency to interpret twisted, unhealthy or perverted characters in her films ... and this film is no exception. Her character is very unpleasant, intolerant, "coincée" or sexually repressed, impatient and unbearably snobbish .... I can confirm this is typical of a majority of Parisians to a greater or lesser degree !! Enter Catherine Frot, "la provinciale" adorable, friendly,spontaneous, natural, "naive" by Parisian standards, who has written a book and hopes to have it published by the parisian editor Grasset. Catherine Frot represents the simple, good-natured and uncomplicated, and unsophisticated person from the French provinces who is totally removed from the world of Isabelle Huppert but brings a breath of Fresh air into her stressed parisian life.
This difference between Paris and the provinces really does exist and although the characteristics are exaggerated in the film, I found it to be not that far removed from reality. There are moments when Huppert DOES realise she has an awful character, and repents but a few minutes later, this is forgotten and she's on the warpath again ! I am not sure whether the film would be that interesting for someone who does not live in France and does not know this profound difference between the parisian and provincial mentalities. When you have witnessed this first hand, the film with its dialogues takes on all its importance. The humour ( as such - as I don't know whether one can really call it humour - though there are a few moments where you smile ) vaguely recollects that distilled by the film "Tatie Danielle". If you've seen and appreciated the humour of the latter, then there are chances that you will appreciate this effort.
The dialogues of the film are surprisingly violent at certain stages and the spectator may be surprised or even shocked !! An excellent actors' performance in my opinion - and I would love to know how the film will go down in other countries !!!
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