Isabelle Huppert, superb as an abuser in 'The Piano Teacher'
Born 16 March, 1953 in Paris, Isabelle Huppert has starred in more than 90 films, of which the most famous are 'Violette Noziere' (1978) and 'The Piano Teacher' (2001).
Isabelle Huppert is known wickedly as French cinema's favorite psychopath. She loves the demands of playing misfits, oddballs, and sociopaths.
Nothing seems to me to be that weird, she says. Besides,
What's the point of doing it if it doesn't shock?
In Michael Haneke's 'The Piano Teacher' she sits in a bathtub cutting herself with a razor blade; in the film of George Bataille's novel, 'Ma Mere', she holds her son in her arms while he attends to his needs. In Claude Chabrol's 'La Ceremonie' she slaughters a whole family with a shotgun, while in Hal Hartley's 'Amateur', she wields a power-drill while dressed from head to toe in black PVC.
In White Material, directed by Claire Denis, she plays Maria Vial, a coffee farmer in an unnamed African state, no doubt a former French colony, in meltdown. The streets are lawless and the radio pours out messages of hatred. The colonial whites are being blamed. It's a disturbing movie and disturbing role.
The Guardian writes:
The danger is like an ambient presence or temperature, a background crackle which gets progressively louder and louder. There are no conventionally tense, heart-pumping moments and, actually, no really explicit violence. Yet by the end the movie overflows with adrenaline and fear.
The role of Maria is perfect for Huppert, who has built a career playing psychopaths, violent, maladjusted individuals, and emotional extremists.
This does not bother Huppert, but what she does find odd is
this weird subterraneous life you see now on the internet, where your slightest movement is charted. OK, I'm not Elvis Presley so actually, I'm rarely recognized. If I hadn't gone into film, nobody would ever have noticed me. I have a face which melts into the masses.
Huppert is a brutally forthright woman. Asked if cinema has too few roles for older women, she says:
That can be true for some, but life can be unfair.
When asked if she has plans of making a splash in Hollywood, she responds with disdain:
I don't think I'll do many more things in America; It's pretty rare for any French actress to build a lasting career in the US and I have never had that ambition anyway. French films tend to be much more nuanced and refined -- and so there can be wonderful roles to play.
By Athina Simonidou