‘Isabelle Huppert’


I’ll bite: Isabelle Huppert may just be the greatest actress currently at work in cinema. Imagine the last quarter-century of cinema without her: the wicked-sharp cobalt gaze, the custardy voice ringing on its edges with a Waterford chirp, the effortless self-possession suggesting terminally secret wounds, the enormous emotional violence, the melancholy of bitter independence. MOMA’s perfectly reasoned retro celebration cannot hope to rope in her complete oeuvre (Huppert has often been making three films a year lately; in 2000 she made seven), but you can hardly survey her achievement without reconsidering her films with Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol (of these, the most Huppert-intense remains Chabrol’s 1988 Story of Women). Similarly, Maurice Pialat’s Loulou(1980), Diane Kurys’s Entre Nous (1983), Christian Vincent’s deplorably underrated and underseen La Séparation (1994), and naturally Michael Haneke’s mid-career firestorm The Piano Teacher (2001), are inevitable. But there’re a few less obvious Huppertudes: Márta Mészáros’s The Heiresses (1980), in which a 1936 Hungarian couple enlists a young Jewish woman as a surrogate mother; Marco Ferreri’s The Story of Piera (1983), a debauched tale of hedonism and incest; Andrzej Wajda’s 1988 adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed; and Raul Ruiz’s masterpiece of parental vertigo The Comedy of Innocence (2000). If you are still Huppert-hungry, go to BAM on the 23rd, where the lady herself introduces Barbara Loden’s long-semi-lost American New Wave classic Wanda (1971), the reissue of which in France was a recent Huppert cause