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A divorced mother of two boys reaching adulthood decides to sell their house, find love and get on with her life away from her husband and boys, a decision that will lead to an escalating fraternal dispute.
It is impossible not to be shocked by this movie, focused on a very delicate theme, and on three female characters. An over the top (and very courageous) Isabelle Huppert plays the main role of Danielle, a mother who hates her daughter in a visceral way, and has spent her whole life between indifference and sense of guilt, but incapable of elaborating her suffering condition. Her interpretation is devastating, her face is completely blank and the camera focused on it underlines the void of her inner world, still more underlined by the aseptic, white, impersonal environment surrounding her. Her troubled relationship with motherhood is probably part of a mental disorder, since also the relation with her good husband has always been difficult, as she has often felt disgusted by him, and she feels in general incapable of experiencing any human feelings. Mélanie Laurent plays Sophie, the hated daughter, she shifts from total inexpressiveness when she is with Danielle (although she feels some kind of love for her), to tender maternal love when she is with her own daughter. Greta Scacchi plays the analyst and is the only soothing and positive human female figure, trying to elaborate some sense and to assert the value of human sympathy.
The atmosphere throughout the movie never ceases to be tense, sometimes too tense, the moments of "dialogue" between Danielle and Sophie convey such anger, rage, hate that they are almost unbearable. The final outcome tries to offer some relief, although not too convincing, as if a backwards step seemed to be necessary in order to bring all the hate we have perceived to a more humanly-acceptable dimension, as if some kind of rescue were to be found, but it seems too a hasty ending, which leaves many unsolved, but probably unsolvable questions (above all, the only hinted reference by Danielle to the possibility that every mother could have negative feelings for a child, that you cannot enforce yourself to love someone, not even your own child). Undoubtedly, a very well interpreted movie, but, obviously, very sad and depressing, you need to be prepared and be in the right mood to see it.
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