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It's impossible to be with you without feeling like shit.
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Relentlessly dark puzzle
Danielle, a woman in her late forties has been institutionalized by her daughter Sophie after three suicide attempts. We see Danielle in therapy sessions with Dr. Nielsen, who is supportive and caring but seems to be at the end of her tether; she has Danielle put her thoughts in writing with the hope of finding a crack past her impregnable shell. As the action progresses we learn that for many years (perhaps always) Danielle has been unable to form "normal" attachments with other human beings including her husband and daughter; her interactions are devoid of love or even of a hint of empathy or tolerance and are sometimes tinged with plain hatred. We are given no clue about the causes, childhood traumas or family situations that may have shaped her. We don't even know if she can be entirely believed; according to her daughter, Danielle is a narcissist given to playacting and manipulation.
The ending is perhaps the most enigmatic part of the film. We can connect the dots in various ways. Some offer a ray of hope, but others end the story in the very heart of darkness.
Isabelle Huppert, playing Danielle is a fearless actress. Her skills range all over the spectrum and she can be charming and charismatic if needed. However, her trademark has been portraying characters in various stages of mental and psychological disturbance. Huppert's creation of her personage in this movie is made of obsessive hand gestures, long silences and stares that are sometimes blank and void, other times all-knowing. Her performance is flawless and the rest of the actors also acquit themselves with distinction. Production values, among them music and cinematography are first rate.
All in all, this is a strangely compelling film. It's sometimes hard to watch due to the subject matter but engages the viewer's attention from beginning to end. Not to miss.
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