Top critical review
Beautifully acted but get ready to be disappointed
on 25 March 2009
The two leads are extremely good but this is an unsatisfactory film. It feels like a short story in every way, spun out to make just about a film's length (it is only 82 minutes of running time, the rest credits). The attempt to flesh out the original Conrad story by giving some of sort of character and motivation to Isabelle Huppert's wife is not successful - the words she is given by the scriptwriter make her seem more mad than sad - and although she does her level best, it ends by being simply unconvincing. The final three scenes at the end of the film (as it has been (re-)written) beggar belief - what was Chereau thinking? The movie is generally uneven, and divided into three distinct styles - with an extended voiceover introduction externalising the thoughts of the husband; followed by a very talky soiree evening with whizzing subtitles; and then a series of barely sensible, half-finished exchanges between the main leads and also a reluctant maid acting as confidante to the wife. Atmospheric, but empty, rather like the music and the irritating switches from Colour to Black and White. Great acting, but get ready to be disappointed.