Benoît Jacquot – Villa Amalia (2009)

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“From the opening rain-swept scene, in which a distraught woman, Ann (Huppert), follows her longtime b.f. Thomas (writer-director Xavier Beauvois) to his mistress’ house, actress and camera coexist in urgent lockstep. Ann’s refusal to process her lover’s betrayal radically disconnects her from any sense of continuum, her jerky, determined movements mirrored by disruptive closeups, and gaps in time and space open up between scenes as every action fades to black.

Ann discards all vestiges of her successful career as a composer/pianist — walking out in the middle of a concert, burning her sheet music and celebrated CDs. She sells her austerely luxurious Paris apartment and disposes of everything in it, turns off her phone, closes out her accounts and disappears, the camera recording every painstaking phase of the unexpectedly hard work involved. The only link she retains to her past is a long-lost childhood friend (Jean-Hugues Anglade), whom she unexpectedly runs into on the night she discovers her b.f.’s infidelity.

Once on the road (or rather, on the rails), Ann further erases traces of her peripatetic passage, like a chameleon shedding clothes, looks and languages according to the changing countryside and climate — a compulsion for identity evasion that begins to feel endemic (her stage name was “Ann Hidden”).

She eventually settles in a small villa perched atop a hill on an island off the coast of Naples, where, after a few harrowing experiences, she is granted a measure of peace. Scrambling up the steep Italian mountain toward epiphany, she recalls Ingrid Bergman in Rossellini’s “Stromboli.”

Caroline Champetier’s lensing follows the pic’s arc from the cold, gray north, where black seems but one grade lower on the spectrum, to the misty luminosity of the isles. Score by Bruno Coulais (including ersatz “Ann Hidden” compositions) impresses.” Variety

‘Villa Amalia’ is literary adaptation of a novel by French author Pascal Quignard that won the Prix Goncourt.

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Language(s):French, Italian
Subtitles:English and French

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