Brigitte (Isabelle Huppert) and Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darrousin) are a couple of cattle farmers living and working together in Normandy. They have always got on well but now that their two children have left the household routine and weariness have set in. One night, Brigitte, who has been invited to a party by a group of Parisians in the house next to their farm, lets herself be wooed by Stan (Pio Marma•), a witty, cool attractive young man. Some time later, giving a visit to a dermatologist as an excuse, she goes to Paris to meet him. But things do not go according to plan.
Review by Louise Keller:
Cows, boredom and infidelity form part of an interesting jigsaw in Marc Fitoussi's highly enjoyable outing that delves into the emotional puzzles of a long-term relationship. It's the complex nuances between Isabelle Huppert's bored house-wife Brigitte and Jean Pierre Darroussin's cattle breeder Xavier that allow the credible shifts to spring from the bedrock of everyday routine. The peck on the cheek is not enough while the daily irritations are far too much. A small lie, a little escape and a charming Danish distraction (Michael Nyqvist) prompt a shift of gears that drive the film - and our characters - into new territory.
Like Catherine Deneuve in On My Way (2013), Huppert plays a woman who takes a journey of self-discovery, after questioning the pillars in her life. While we accept Huppert as the girl from agriculture school who wanted to be a shepherdess (and subsequently married a fellow student), she is eminently more credible when she heads to Paris, checks into an elegant hotel, goes shopping and seeks reinforcement of her womanly charms - first with the younger Stan (Pio Mamai), followed by Nyqvist's periodontist, Jesper. We understand the sequence of events that prompts Brigitte to lie about her upcoming skin specialist appointment for her psoriasis. In Paris, Brigitte's dinner with her sister law, flanked by Jesper at the next table is one of the film's funniest, although the sequence in which Brigitte meets up with Lothario Stan in an impossibly awkward situation, comes close.
By contrast, Darroussin reflects the very salt of the earth; he is the epitome of the cattle farmer whose livelihood is his passion. There's a glint in his eye when his prize stud Ben Hur wins the blue ribbon; he reads cattle magazines, watches his cows via webcams and knows every cut of beef at a glance. The way Xavier states that 'Brigitte' is his computer password tells us that his wife is the other passion in his life. The expression on his face when he secretly follows Brigitte to Paris and observes her with Jesper says more than words ever could. Nyqvist is perfectly cast in a role that could have easily been superficial had he not been equipped to deliver so much more.
Fitoussi has interwoven three additional elements and they are all effective. There is the subplot involving the bumpy relationship with Brigitte and Xavier's acrobat son (Clement Metayer), the illegal Indian immigrant (Lakshantha Abenayake) who Brigitte befriends in Paris and Xavier's right hand man Regis (Jean-Charles Clichet), whose astute observations about their relationship is heart-warming.
Keenly observed, the film is funny, warm and often unexpected. The countryside of Normandy is beautiful, the cattle magnificent and of course there is Paris, which always offers elegance and charm.
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FOLIES BERGERE (M)
La ritournelle (aka Paris Follies)
CAST: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Pierre Darrousin, Michael Nyqvist, Pio Marma•, Marina Fo•s, Audrey Dana, Ana• Demoustier
PRODUCER: Caroline Bonmarchand
DIRECTOR: Marc Fitoussi
SCRIPT: Marc Fitoussi, Sylvie Dauvillier
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Agn¸s Godard
EDITOR: Laure Gardette
MUSIC: Tim Gane, Se‡n O'Hagan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Fran¨ois Emmanuelli
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 11, 2014