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Passion, June 16

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction

Friday, June 16, 2006
8:50 p.m. Passion
Jean-Luc Godard (France/Switzerland, 1982)

"At base, work is the same as love, the same gestures," Huppert's character says in Passion, in which a film called Passion is being made. Visually, it is based on tableaux vivants of famous paintings. But because "you have to live stories before inventing them," the action moves off set to the snowy factory-suburb where the studio is located, with its very real dramas of labor and its labors of love. And as the factory workers revolt, so do the people in pictures (paintings and film); art is not separate, art is work as work is love (as love is work). Huppert is moving and a little scary as an anguished proletarian—she suffers from a stutter, identifies with Anne Frank. Hanna Schygulla's bourgeoise is much evolved since Godard's Weekend; "My Japanese car!" has replaced "My Hermès bag!" Godard's renditions of Rembrandt and Delacroix alone make Passion a viscerally exciting film, but there is much more; the characters refuse to be written and their emotions, therefore, jump off the screen-as-canvas. This is not a still life.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Godard, Jean-Claude Carrière (uncredited). Photographed by Raoul Coutard, Hans Liechti. With Isabelle Huppert, Hanna Schygulla, Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Radziwilowicz. (87 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, PFA Collection, permission Canal+ Image)