For Reel


Special Treatment (2010)
March 22, 2011, 7:10 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jeanne Labrune

At 58, Isabelle Huppert is as mesmerizing a screen presence as any actress working today. Excelling in a variety of genres – most recently in the highly satisfying comedy Copacabana and in Claire Denis’ White Material, a thriller (of sorts) about racial conflicts in Africa – her ability to bring authenticity to even the most eccentric of characters has enforced her invaluable versatility. In Special Treatment, she plays a prostitute who specializes in role-playing with her clients. Whilst donning the outfits of Japanese school girls and dominatrixes, writer/director Jeanne Labrune humorosuly juxtaposes her work with that of a psychiatrist played by Bouli Lanners. The analogy runs only skin deep, however, and when you expect something to come of the comparison, the plot veers off into other baffling tangents (one of which involves a bizarre sex club). While Huppert and Lanners have a number of captivating scenes together – Lanners having requested her services but being too emotionally damaged to act on his desires – the persistent, unfocused meandering of the plot castrates the narrative of its momentum. In the last third of the film, Huppert attempts to distance herself from the occupation with the help of a psychiatrist played by Richard Debuisne, though as a reformative drama the film whimpers out before the routine conclusion. Huppert’s character had shown no weaknesses, instead having been depicted as being a self-sufficient, confident woman who maintains authority in even her most extreme encounters. Despite Labrune’s inexplicable lack of commitment, however, the performances by Huppert and Lanners make the effort a highly watchable, if often frustrating satirical drama.

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