Make no mistake, this is not a film for the faint-hearted. It deserves it's '18' certificate. But it is nonetheless a superb film, an amazing depiction of loneliness, alienation and self-delusion. Even though I knew what was coming, it still shocked me and left me mentally gasping for breath. The most shocking thing of all, perhaps, is that the film is apparently much lighter in mood than the book it was based on!
Isabelle Huppert is superb as Erika Klohut, a woman alienated from life by her own fears and her elderly, utterly selfish mother. She is a brilliant pianist, but is so cold she could freeze a blast furnace. Huppert is amazing as she wanders through the film seeming as hard as nails, but underneath it all craving affection and something more. However, as she realises at the end, what she really craves is not what she thought. She is confused by her own sexuality and is way out of her depth in her relationship with Walter Klemmer (wonderfully realised by Benoit Magimel of 'Nids de Guepes' fame). She thinks she is in control, but it becomes very apparent to her that she isn't, and the end of the film is so sad it isn't true. Make sure you listen to Huppert's commentary on this.
This is a great film and one that will move you to the core. Klohut isn't likeable, and nor is Klemmer, but they are real people, and I think most of us certainly know someone like Klohut, although they may not be this extreme. This is great cinema, provocative yet terribly sad.
My only question is, what was she doing in the bath with that razor?!!!