VillaAmalia Movie Review
Ann (Huppert) is rattled one evening by two events: she sees her partner Thomas (Beauvois) kissing another woman and she runs into Georges (Anglade), an old friend who knew her before she became a famous pianist. Suddenly she decides to leave her current life behind, dumping Thomas, selling her flat and hitting the road. And Georges is the only person she tells; to everyone else she has simply vanished. She ends up on an isolated Italian island, where her life is redefined by her new friends (Bindi and Sansa). But can she fully escape her past?
Huppert is terrific as always, subtly letting us see into the soul of this woman who decides to upend her entire life--job, home, boyfriend, everything, including her identity. From the start, Ann is playful and mysterious, preferring time on her own and calmly making huge decisions most people would have nervous breakdowns just considering. So watching her shed layers and eventually make herself disappear is thoroughly involving. As is watching her discover new joys she had never imagined.
The plot wanders from scene to scene without much momentum, but there are terrific moments along the way, mainly due to Jacquot's skilful direction, elegiac photography and clever editing. It also helps that settings from urban Paris to the remote island are vividly captured on screen, which adds to the appeal of escaping from the craziness of life.
As her journey continues, Ann's encounters with a variety of people add warmth, humour and more than a few surprises, such as an almost wordless romance and an awkward, difficult trip home. And while it seems like a film about escaping, it's actually perhaps an exploration of a woman who clears away life's clutter to find herself and gets lost in the process. Or maybe not. Whatever, the sensuous filmmaking holds us in its gaze even as it appears to drift aimlessly, rather like Ann herself.
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