irajoel’s review published on Letterboxd :
This is the second great performance from Isabelle Huppert in 2016. The first was in “Elle”, which is the complete opposite of her work in this lean but complex work about a woman entering middle age and the pitfalls that fall on her. In other words its’ about life and how we handle it. In this film Huppert (who I consider our greatest actress working in film) plays Natalie a philosophy professor married for 25 years to another teacher of philosophy who throws a wrench into her life that could cause someone with less resolve than Natalie has to fall apart in a puddle of nothingness.
Lucky for Natalie and lucky for us that she has her intellectual prowess to help get her through the slings and arrows that come her way. This is a fascinating film and I never thought that I would find the life of a somewhat dull intellectual so engrossing. This is due to the great Huppert whose character over a span of a few years grows and changes but also remains the same, reserved a little too tight but also expansive with the people she deeply cares about.
The deepest relationships (besides her two children) are with a former anarchistic somewhat pretentious student and what we think might happen between the two doesn’t. He has a delicious large farmhouse that he shares with other young like minded political philosophers and writers and Huppert goes for a long weekend visit that ends abruptly in a situation that I totally related to, it was something that I have done myself when hurt by someone who meant much to me.
There is a terrific scene where Huppert goes to the movies alone to see Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy” another “philosophical” but more dense movie about relationships where a guy sitting behind her tries and fails to aggressively pick her up and ruins the film for her. On top of her martial woes Natalie is also dealing with her hypochondriac mother played to perfection by the great Edith Scob who is an important memory in my movie life for her role in “Eyes Without A Face” and her mom’s overweight comic relief black cat.
Also looming in her life are problems with her academic publisher and his much younger and condescending editors who push her to jazz up her books with flashy covers (I actually liked them) because they are not selling well and pushes her up against the wall. All of this, the whole movie is Huppert’s and to just watch her walk across a room or show frustration over a missing book or run to catch a train is pure joy, at least for me, she is that great. The final scene with the credits rolling uses the song “Unchained Melody” to heart wrenching perfection. This is the first film I’ve seen by the writer-director Mia Hanson-Love, and will definitely check out her other films if I can find them. One of the 10 best films of 2016.