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The Trout, June 23

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction

Friday, June 23, 2006
9:25 p.m. The Trout
Joseph Losey (France, 1982)

(La truite). Losey and Huppert—a lethal pairing. The blacklisted American director who went on to work in England (The Servant) and France (Mr. Klein) is at once subterranean and over-the-top, and who else does that describe? Huppert plays a paysanne, Frédérique, who comes in the thrall of wealthy bankers Jean-Pierre Cassel and his wife Jeanne Moreau. Allowing herself to be lured on a trip to Tokyo, she finds the plush surroundings as alien as the culture, and explores both like the rube she is ("c'est où, le satori?")—until her quick-study instincts kick in. Meanwhile, her fragile husband is left to play trout to Cassel's line. All the Losey themes are here—master and servant, scary children, sexual and class ambiguity; even Don Giovanni's Ruggiero Raimondi has a cameo—but not in any apparent order. Hence the critics' cool reception. But disorder may be a symptom in a film the Village Voice called "a field day for semiologists."

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Losey, Monique Lange, from a novel by Roger Vailland. Photographed by Henri Alekan. With Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Speisser, Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Pierre Cassel. (105 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Gaumont, permission Janus/Criterion Collection)