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The Lacemaker, June 9

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction

Friday, June 9, 2006
7:00 p.m. The Lacemaker
Claude Goretta (France, 1977)

(La dentellière). The Lacemaker's gentle rhythms and luminous simplicity are calibrated to the character of its placid, watchful heroine Pomme, the role that launched Huppert to international stardom. An apprentice in a Paris beauty parlor, Pomme at eighteen is unready for womanhood, preferring to observe an older friend's attempts at romance—until she meets a Sorbonne student on vacation in a seaside town, and a new kind of spark appears in her eyes. Back in Paris, however, the social distance between this docile working-class girl and her more privileged, educated lover soon makes itself felt—after a party with his intellectual friends, she asks, "what's dialectic?"—resulting in a break that is unexpectedly shattering. Huppert's performance suggests an inner life that neither the character of the lover nor the film itself quite dares to plumb. The final shot references Vermeer as it dwells on the enigma of the actress's gaze, eyes more mirrors than windows.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Goretta, Pascal Lainé, from the novel by Lainé. Photographed by Jean Boffety. With Isabelle Huppert, Yves Beneyton, Florence Giorgetti, Anne-Marie Duringer. (108 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)