Review: Folies Bergere

Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Paul Darroussin play husband and wife in Folies Bergere.

Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Paul Darroussin play husband and wife in Folies Bergere.


Directed by Marc Fitoussi ★★★ 1/2

Brigitte (Isabelle Huppert) is depressed.

Her kids have left home, her rash is spreading and her husband Xavier (Jean-Paul Darroussin) seems more interested in his prize charolais bull Ben Hur than her. 

So when a mysterious, swarthy younger man (Pio Marmai) claims to be desperate for her company to escape a neighbouring teens birthday party it's natural that she should delight in the attention. 

But perhaps not so much so that, first chance she gets, Brigitte concocts a story about visiting a skin specialist in Paris so she can track him down to the American Apparel store where he works.

Like the recent Le Week-End and Just A Sigh, writer-director Marc Fitoussi's tale is a story of a middle-ager's misadventures in the City of Light. Brigitte is a James Joycean character attempting to live out a fantasy in the hope it might just come true and Fitoussi manages to balance the comedy and pathos nicely (with the pacing of the unravelling of her elaborate deception especially well judged). 

It helps that he has such a fantastic leading lady in Huppert (The Piano Teacher, Amour), who has proved time and again her ability to play emotionally complex characters. She's ably supported by the likes of France's answer to Billy Bob Thornton, Darroussin (Le Havre) and Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). If there's a fault, it's that proceedings get a little too contrived, a little too neat, a touch too farcical.

However, part this generation's How Stella Got Her Groove Back, part cautionary tale ("what happens when you get too curious about an alternate life"), Folies Bergere is both an enjoyable story and a fantastic showcase for a terrific French actress.

In French with English subtitles. 

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