Dave's Rating:


It's kind of perfect.

Who's in It: Isabelle Huppert, Jérémie Renier, Yannick Renier

The Basics: Have you ever had one of those awful family dinners where someone brings up a seriously contentious topic, and you know everyone's about to explode in an argumentative rage, and then your mom will go, "OK, let's just change the subject!" and then everyone eats in awkward, tense silence. THAT'S THIS WHOLE MOVIE. It's kind of perfect.

What's the Deal? Family dramas are hard to get right because most families never act like the people in movies or on TV. You usually get one character to "feel sorry" for — or to like — and subtlety goes right out the window. And while you'll sympathize most with great French actor Huppert as a fragile woman emotionally abused by her selfish twin adult sons, you'll get annoyed with her for being weak-willed and for having had a hand in raising these two jerks.

What's Great, Besides Huppert Being Brittle and Sad: The uncomfortable lack of physical boundaries between characters, the drab and claustrophobic house it's almost entirely set in (a nice change from the perfect upper-middle-ness that most set designers are always trying to show off with) and the relentless tension somehow created by planting a camera in front of a kitchen table and allowing people to slowly boil over.

Where You've Seen the Blond Son Before: French and Belgian film fans will know Jérémie Renier from the Dardenne brothers films L'Enfant and La Promesse. And his brother here is played by his actual brother, Yannick.

For Fans Of: Unease, ambiguity and yelling.


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