Friday, September 24, 2010

Villa Amalia

Seems that lately I have been choosing to watch films where female protagonists leave everything behind to start a “new life”. First was Nothing Personal and now Villa Amalia. Is someone sending me a message? (LOL!) Anyway this Benoît Jacquot film couldn’t be more different than the Irish film as not only is a great example of what I can call very-very French cinema but the lead character is played by none other than Isabelle Huppert.

Film tells about Ann (Huppert) that what she sees in one night detonates not only the rupture of her love life but also propels a decision that as you get to know her story and circumstances you will totally understand why she does what she does. This is a story that explores themes of identity and fugue. Yes Ann leaves her live-in boyfriend, her successful concert pianist and composer career, and her possessions to search for a new meaning for her life. Not totally willingly helped by Georges -a childhood friend she re-encounters in that one night- she ends up at the island of Ischia in Italy.

This is a film with what some have called “gay subtext” because Georges ‘seems’ gay as well as Ann meets Giulia and she ends up sharing her bed. But I believe is not subtext as I was able to clearly see that Georges is gay and it was very clear what happened to Ann with Giulia. In a sense I regret that the treatment to the lesbian interest moments was so superficial, but if I take into account Jacquot storytelling technique absolutely understand why he chose to do those moments the way he did them.

As always extraordinary performance by Isabelle Huppert that more than with words is with her body language and facial expressions that make you feel all kind of emotions that range from numbness to total sympathy for whatever the character is doing, feeling or living. As a movie has good cinematography, slow pace, many extraordinary silences (most notably during Ann’s last visit to her mother), is full of narratives ellipses plus truncated conversations which transmits fracture and makes the storytelling technique quite extraordinary.

I liked the film for the story, great performance by Huppert and her co protagonists, and beautiful sights of the Italian island; but most of all I liked for Jacquot narrative and visual storytelling technique and as such I do recommend it to those that enjoy great –but very particular- French cinema. Also I don’t recommend the movie to those that enjoy the lesbian or gay interest genre as absolutely is not the ‘normal’ genre film; still is important to share that the film has been in the European LGTB fest circuit, so some maybe dare to give the film a try.


Watch trailer @MOC

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