October 4, 2011

movies: Les soeurs fâchées

"Happiness, there's more to life than just that!" says Martine Demouthy to her younger sister Louise. Portrayed by the razor sharp Isabelle Huppert, Martine is vicious, directing vitriolic undercuts to pretty much everyone, the poisoned arrows landing mainly on her walking dartboard sister.

Unresolved issues aka sibling rivalry appear to be the reason for the sparks inducing friction between the sisters. While the cause of their animosity is kept intentionally vague we get the feeling these two sisters weren't all that different once upon a time.

Martine moved to Paris, onwards and upwards, presumably acquiring upward mobility through marriage while Louise remained working girl and therefore possibly less bound to convention as she dreams of becoming a writer. She comes across as timid and gauche while Martine has absorbed the patina of Parisian sophistication.

A meeting with a potential publisher of her first novel, Louise takes the bus to Paris and uses the opportunity to visit Martine. Big-city sister welcomes country bumpkin sister into her intellectually chic home. Actress Catherine Frot as Louise has the physiognomy of a porcelain doll, an older Lily Cole, playing well into the character's ability to view life without guile.

"Les soeurs fâchées", from 2004, is best translated with "Sisters at odds with each other". These sisters definitely are although it's more a case of Martine driving the angry train down a one-way street. Martine has no patience for Louise's 'happiness'. With this as a premise, the film's deadpan dialogue volleys back and forth between the excellent cast, letting the audience deduce what might be simmering underneath the facade; a philosophical comedy I'd call it.

about "pretty different" 

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