The story centers on a young gigolo, Bertrand Valade who steals the manuscript of a dying client. After a year, becomes a playwright and is now living in a decked-out Parisian apartment. The only problem is that his producer, Regis Grant has been waiting impatiently for a new play which the imposter Bertrand is somehow supposed to write. When Bertrand shows up for a rehearsal of his hit play, which is now touring the provinces, he crosses paths with a high-class call girl, Eva who quickly becomes an obsession that will ruin his life.
I decided to see 'Eva' made in 2017 by Benoît Jacquot for two reasons. The first and foremost is of course the presence of Isabelle Huppert in the cast. The second reason is that every time I decided to watch a film by Benoît Jacquot I came out much more satisfied than most other viewers, if we assume that the average of their impressions is correctly reflected in the average rating on IMDB. I wasn't wrong this time either. Isabelle Huppert is in 'Eva' as magnetic as she always is, a magnetism that radiates even if the character she plays is seemingly more austere or more discreet, a way of saying that there is something fascinating in any person and especially in any woman, you just have to find the right actor or actress who will play the role. As for the average rating, it is abysmal on IMDB, and this time (and it happens very rarely) my personal rating is over two points higher. 'Eva' is a film that interested me and took me in its world, although it is a somewhat bizarre and not very nice world. No wonder, because the source that inspired the film is a 'noir' novel by James Hadley Chase that also inspired the screenplay of another movie more than half a century ago by a director no less interesting (Joseph Losey) and an equally fascinating actress in the lead role (Jeanne Moreau).
The two main characters in 'Eva' lead a double life. Bertrand (Gaspard Ulliel) is an impostor writer who has earned an ephemeral glory by stealing the manuscript of an old playwright and who enters a crisis when his publisher is demanding a new literary creation. Eva (Isabelle Huppert) is a luxury prostitute who practices her profession in order to raise the money needed to release from prison the husband described to customers as 'traveling'. Bertrand and Eva meet as fake selves and start a relationship triggered by the curiosity of the man who sees in the woman the character of the future book or play that may save his career. They are separated by the age difference and especially by the layers of lies that surround them. However, their approaching is dangerous, especially for the man. Relationships based on lies must be kept at a strictly functional level. When Bertrand tries to break aside appearances he will endanger himself and those around him.
I liked the way this story is written. The games played between imaginary and real, between imposture and emotion, as well as the issue of age difference are approached with subtlety. Of course, not everything is explained and clarified, but the same thing happens in life, especially in relationships between people who have many things to hide. Isabelle Huppert and Gaspard Ulliel are here together again on screen, ten years after they had been mother and son in 'The Sea Wall', and their performances excellently describe the ambiguity, tension and shadows of the relationship between them. The narration has tension and rhythm. Without being a masterpiece, the film is in my opinion a more than acceptable psychological thriller. It's hard for me to understand why the film was rejected by many critics and a large part of the audience who watched the film. It is possible that it all started with the wrong decision of the producers and distributors who sent 'Eva' in competition to Berlin, a festival known for the preferences of juries for films with a social message and coming from off-mainstream cinema schools. In my opinion, however, 'Eva' deserves a much better fate than the current IMDB rating indicates. Maybe the future will be more generous with this film.
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