Friday, 3 September 2010

TIFF 2010 Review #3: Special Treatment

Special Treatment, Jeanne Labrune (Special Presentation) One of my favourite French actresses, Isabelle Huppert, is back on the screens at TIFF, playing Alice, a self-managed prostitute of a certain age who has become tired of her profession. Xavier ((Bouli Lanners) is also tired of his profession as a psychoanalyst and seems incapable of dealing with his failing marriage. Besides their professional malaise, Alice and Xavier share a love of fine art: both are collectors. Alice’s focus is a beautiful chandelier; Xavier’s focus is a statue of an angel.

Director, Jeanne Labrune’s carefully constructed film contrasts the lives of these two characters with edit choices and dialogue that move fluidly from scene to scene and character to character. In both worlds, clients arrive by appointment and depart at the end of their special treatment. Perfunctory and not in the least intimate, these exchanges are merely business transactions with neither Alice nor Xavier being emotionally engaged.

Inevitably, the two characters meet and our curiosity becomes engaged as we wonder how their relationship will unfold. Art, culture, prostitution, and psychoanalysis are not the strange bedfellows we might have thought and the fully realized characters of Alice and Xavier make this an interesting, very human story to watch. We observe scenes of the educated, seeming poised prostitute, and the prominent, repressed psychoanalyst as if we are watching a tennis match or a game of chess between two equals; what will the next play be?

As Alice, Huppert, is sexy as hell, whether her character is in her various working gear or her off-hours clothing of black jeans and simple leather jacket. Leave it to the French film industry to keep women over forty (well, fifty, in the case of Huppert) in lead roles on the big screen.


What will you see at TIFF 2010?

No comments: