Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Les Soeurs Fâchées (2004)

This is the third of my three holiday movies, seen in the confines of the Cloisters in the Christchurch Art Centre. It has a total of 11 seats, very comfortable, but it is a tight squueze: the seat in front of me had to be folded forward like in a two-door car to let the back seat viewers in. I was pleased that, despite the smallness of the audience (it was a full house), I managed to sit beside someone who laughed at pretty much all the same places I did.

Martine, played by Isabelle Huppert, is the big-city big sister: she at first seems to think she has it all - nice apartment, fancy lifestyle, no need to work. It is a life of making all the right moves at the right time and place. The reality is she has nothing: her best friend and her husband are sleeping together, she can't actually do anything, detests herself. She's your typical snobby poor little rich girl - perhaps over-compensating for her past (mum is apparently locked up somewhere as an alcoholic).

Funny little sister, Louise, (Catherine Frot) is a hairdresser in the provinces, she has come to the big city for some meeting that Martine doesn't want to know about. A couple of times Martine turns to Louise for help to get over who she has become, but for the most part is very dismissive of her.

It is probably jealousy - Louise has written a novel, which is why she's in town. Of the 12 strong publishing panel who read it, the only ones who didn't like it are those who loved it - a cheque is written on the spot. Then at some dinner party Martine has thrown, Louise captivates the audience with her tale of confronting some man she'd had her eye on and making a go of a relationship: she is openly in love, something Martine can't even aspire to.

Of course, there is a final showdown, in which Martine throws Louise out for being happy. Earlier, she'd said "Happiness: there's more to life than that." The film ends with a strangely open-ended scene: Martine goes to the train station where she and Louise just smile at each other.

The key to this movie is just how well the two actresses play their parts and the lines they are given to deliver - pretty sharp. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy the DVD, but I'm glad I saw it.


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