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Babou (Isabelle Huppert), boldly unconventional and cheerful, is able to shrug off anything: proper jobs, husbands, responsibilities, who needs them? But when she finds out that her own daughter, Esmeralda (Lolita Chammah) is too ashamed of her to invite her to her wedding, she decides to make some changes. She takes a job selling time-shares at the Belgian port of Ostende during the off-season, and to her own surprise, becomes a model employee. Eventually, though, Babou again gets in the way of her own success, and she must find a way to get a wedding gift worthy of her daughter yet true to her one-of-a-kind self.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Would you buy a time share apartment in unsunny Ostend from this woman ...? Isabelle Huppert is desperate by the time she takes on the job - the only one she is offered. But will it prove to her daughter that mummy is really stable and capable? Or does the notion of throwing it all in for a trip to Rio continue to tug at her heart?

A pleasant enough interlude, Copacabana doesn't actually get us there ... to Copacabana or to 'there' as a film, even though everyone does a great job. Isabelle Huppert is mostly fun as the free spirit who can't quite manage the orthodoxies of everyday life, and whose daughter rejects her lifestyle. That aspect of the screenplay is both simplistic and unrealistic, but Lolita Chammah as daughter Esmeralda is a lovely, complex actress with lots going on behind her eyes.

Much of the film is a bit too obvious and Huppert's character, Babou, seems to be an invention of the filmmakers rather than a real person. Intended to be an unconventional character, she often comes across as simply brattish. Still, there are some strong scenes, as Babou tries to make a go of normal working life - albeit in the less than normal world of time share sales in Ostend, not one of the world's hotspots for holidaymakers who would inv est in holiday apartments.

Propelled by the ignominy of Esmerelda's request to NOT attend her wedding, Babou tries to straighten up and fly right with a sort of naïve enthusiasm. Lacking enough layers and ideas to fill it, the screenplay detours to meaningless distractions, like the sales manageress Lydie (Aure Atike, excellent) and her bickering with her boyfriend over the mobile.

Babou's rather forced fling with a guy doesn't go anywhere either romantically or dramatically, and the resolution of the mother-daughter relationship is not only weak but implausible and rather shallow.

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(France, 2010)

CAST: Isabelle Huppert, Aure Atika, Lolita Chammah, Jurgen Delnaet, Chantal Banlier, Magali Woch, Nelly Antignac, Guillaume Gouix, Joachim Lombard

PRODUCER: Caroline Bonmarchand

DIRECTOR: Marc Fitoussi

SCRIPT: Marc Fitoussi


EDITOR: Martine Giordano

MUSIC: Tim Gane & Sean O'Hagan

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michel Barthélémy

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 18, 2010

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