In “Malina,” the German film maker Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of a novel by Ingeborg Bachman, Isabelle Huppert portrays a writer who suffers from an interminable case of existential angst.
Isabelle Huppert’s unnamed character is a chain-smoking novelist who lives in Vienna with a calm and devoted male companion, Malina (Mathieu Carriere). Although attractive and successful, she is emotionally disturbed. In the film’s opening scene, she has a vision of herself as a little girl being thrown to her death by her father from the roof of a building. The father, a demonic figure, reappears in several expressionistic set pieces, sometimes to the accompaniment of operatic music.
One day in front of a flower shop, she spies a handsome stranger, Ivan (Can Togay), whom she chases into a bank and inveigles into embarking on a steamy affair. Although Ivan enjoys the relationship, he takes it more lightly than does the woman, who grows obsessed….
“Malina” was the only novel completed by the notoriously self-destructive author Ingeborg Bachman, whose death in 1973 turned her into a feminist martyr comparable to Sylvia Plath. “Malina,” published two years before her death, was the first part of a projected autobiographical trilogy, “Ways of Dying,” which is also the title of the work Isabelle Huppert’s character is planning to write but is too distracted to get down to work on. (New York Times, STEPHEN HOLDEN, Published: September 27, 1993)