LIVING ROOM SECRETS

Several weeks ago I was walking home from work and passed The Roxie Cinema. As I walked passed this cool, chic and decaying theatre I noticed a French movie poster. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was THE Isabelle Huppert on that poster! Yes! It was an film staring Ms. Huppert and I hadn’t even known it was here!!!

So, I pulled out the cell phone and called an emergency cinema summit! These meeting of great minds consisted of me, Ing, Alan and Mr. C. B was unable to join as he had a work commitment. So, the four of us sat in the tiny cinema and were soon engulfed into something that I don’t think any of us had expected.

As always, Isabelle H was extraordinary. But, what made the experience all the better was the fact that the film was exceptional on all levels!! If I had to sum up the film’s plot — I would say it was about the family secrets behind closed doors kept.

Having thought a great deal about this film, that old essential element of creativity kept ringing in my inner-ear: Tell what you know! …Every single one of us has more stories to tell than could ever be translated to book, film or record in a lifetime. But, these stories are seldom put to use. They go away with us. …our memories. …and our lives. …they remain hidden away.

And, some of the most amazing of stories are the simplest ones. — The ones that happen every day. The ones we choose not to share because they are too personal and far too private to simply let out for the world to see, hear or read. This little film from France by Belgium filmmaker, Joachim Lafosse, is one such story.

Cleverly and almost statically filmed — as if the camera (we, the viewers) are flies on walls. …or flies flitting about potted plants. We flit about unnoticed as this simple — yet, complex story unfolds. And, it unfolds in those most intimate of places. The places where life does unfold: the dining room, the living room, the bathroom and the heart. And, as viewers hiding behind the plants and in the shadows we feel the awkwardness of what we see. And, we know that what we see is often just inappropriate. However, we hesitate to toss too many stones at the characters because we all know that these inappropriate moments in ordinary lives are, in many ways, all too familiar to us. Perhaps not familiar in the sense that what we see has happened to us, but we all have secrets from our living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms that we know were odd, incorrect, inappropriate and very private. Strange as it feels, there is something within this film to which we relate and fear.

There is musical score until the final moments of the movie — Final moments which are emotionally raw, tragic and unforgettable. We fly away from this private story of family secrets which are grim, strange and unsettling. We fly away because that is exactly what the director’s camera does. Or, is it that we run from the sick truth of the situation as it has unfolded? The lack of music makes the film all the more believable, but it is with the sudden jarring effect of violent music which arrives with the devastating final tracking shot packs quite a punch to the gut. I am not sure. I want to say that the music is taken from composer Carl Orff, but I don’t really know.

The acting is amazing. I read a review which called Huppert’s work in it as a “flawlessly calibrated performance” — I wish I could remember where I read that and who wrote it. But, for me, that really sums of the film.

I suppose the film’s title could be viewed as a reference to not only what has gone on in the lives of this family for which the parents failed to set any boundaries — and the dire need for them. But, it could also refer to the heart of the central character — the mother. …who seems to be fighting with all her power to avoid being cut up into emotional and literal private property for her children, her lover, her ex-husband and her employer. Why is it that films like this are so rare? Truth is much stranger than fiction. And the weirdest things are happening right near you. …Maybe even to you. Yet, artists seem to strain to make things horrific. Horror films and scary stories do not have to be about monsters hiding in the closet or knife wielding psychos.

Most horrors are committed in the seemingly most innocent of ways. And, without much notice. And, there is no need for flash editing, spooky lighting or 90 minutes worth of shrieking violins.

…all you need is the strength to tell the story — no matter how unsettling. I think that is a major part of art.

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August 20, 2007. Uncategorized.

8 Comments

  1. ing replied:

    I thought the film was incredibly subtle, which was part of the reason it was so excellent. The house itself, the decay of the house, and the objects within it that kept breaking were such big symbols, yet the film did a marvelous job of not making a big thing of those symbols out of fear we wouldn’t “get” them or maybe I mean out of fear that we wouldn’t pay lots of attention to the artifice of this.

    Yes, it all seemed very real. The characters behaved very strangely for people in a film, but in terms of the way real people, who are complex, actually behave, the story was spot-on.

  2. Daniel replied:

    Isabelle Huppert…Je l’adore.

    One of the things I love about French cinema is the quality of the acting is almost always intelligent and sensitive.

  3. matty03 replied:

    Ing – I agree! It was just so perfectly done. And, for me, the most shocking element was coming to the realization (about mid-way thru the film) that what we were seeing was actually quite believable. Yeah, I love the quietness of the piece.

    …but, you forgot to mention the sheer magic that is Isabelle Huppert!

  4. matty03 replied:

    Daniel! Yes! Yes! Yes! I so agree!!!!!

  5. ing replied:

    Oh, there’s no mistaking the ice-cold magic of Huppert. Will she ever find joy, Matty? Will she ever laugh or step in dog poop or spill something?

    Did you sign anything tonight?!? I hope so and I hope not. I’m on the fence because I am selfish.

  6. matty03 replied:

    Ing! Ms. Huppert can’t smile! It could cause wrinkles! No, she smiles. I’ve seen pictures. …but, I’ve yet to see her play a character that would have the need to smile.

    Yes, we did sign something. However, I think we are on the fence too. I think we’re sort of sleeping on it.

    You shouldn’t worry — I don’t think you understand how not a big deal it would be. Really. …but, I’ll be seein’ ya on Thursday night. Which is a damn good thing because I need a hug!

  7. ginab replied:

    yo Matty, that Isabelle she’s flanked by men. I am envious of even whatever ‘happened’ that’s so secret as in stories that spill before anyone dies.

    Sounds as though you are feeling better which comes as a relief to everyone.

    I tried using my BB to post here but what a pain. A phone is a phone. I have a headache now but I do believe it’s from my heart, and for you.

    -ginab

  8. matty03 replied:

    Gina! Yes! Ms. Huppert is surrounded by men in the film. I couldn’t find a picture of the other actress in the piece. As one would expect: a secondary character.

    No, the other actress was quite good and lovely.

    It was a great story, but not one for which you would feel envy.

    I am feeling a bit better. These heads — they come and go. I take the meds. I practice breathing. I take it easy. It is all going to work out. I just know it!

    sending out a hug,
    matty

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