The exquisite Isabelle Huppert reteams with her Copacabana director, Marc Fitoussi in the fabulous FOLLIES BERGERES.
Long married 50-somethings Brigitte (Huppert) and Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) are prize cattle breeders in regional France. Life is good, but the departure of their children from home has thrown Brigitte’s world into flux, as she perceives herself to be a chattel under the cattle in her spouse’s eyes. A chronic skin condition undermines her perception as being less attractive.
Xavier is more and more bullish about his bovine baccalaureate, and has fallen into that trope of taking Brigitte for granted. Familiarity has bred content and complacency.
Fitoussi brilliantly uses a song to motif Brigitte’s inner and outer journey, choosing the American version of Sacha Distel’s La belle Vie, The Good Life by The Drifters: a retro song that swings from joy to melancholia and touches upon everyday life:-
“Oh, the good life, full of fun
Seems to be the ideal
Mm, the good life lets you hide
All the sadness you feel
Flattered by the flirtations of a young man from Paris attending a party in an adjacent farmhouse, Brigitte determines to fake a trip to a dermatologist to visit the capital with a view to ferment the flirtation into a fling, and the song lyrics come into play:
You won’t really fall in love
For you can’t take the chance
So please be honest with yourself
Don’t try to fake romance
Brigitte has unexpected encounters with two other men while in Paris, one a refugee trying to eke out a living as a fruit vendor, Lakshan Abenayake, the other a visiting Scandinavian dentist, played with Nordic nonchalance by Michael Nyqvist. Both make an indelible impact on both character and narrative.
It’s the good life to be free
And explore the unknown
Like the heartaches when you learn
You must face them alone
Aware that something is a amiss with his relationship with Brigitte, Xavier travels to Paris in pursuit of his spouse, experiencing a profound epiphany that includes a reconciliation with his acrobat son.
Please remember, I still want you
And in case you wonder why
Well, just wake up
Kiss the good life, goodbye.”
Huppert proves yet again why she is one of the premier performers in pictures today, period, and Darroussin delivers another exquisite essay in expressive portrayal of the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Lusciously lensed by Agnes Godard capturing both the elegance of Paris and the bucolic beauty of Normandy, costumed by Marite Coutard, who wardrobed Fanny Ardant in this year’s Bright Days Ahead, FOLLIES BERGERES is a beautiful bon bon of foibles, frailty, fidelity, feelings and forgiveness…and a fur hat!