Monday, June 12, 2006


Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Frot, Brigitte Catillon, Francois Berleand

Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex
11th French Film Festival

Martine et Louise

I knew this was a film about sisters so I wanted to watch it with my only sister, so despite it being shown at 10 in the evening, I persisted. Well it was either 10 p.m or at noon. I just need to emphasize that I am a certified nightowl thus noon was so out of the question. Heh.

Ok now back to the film. Martine and Louise are siblings. Louise, a beautician lives in Le Mans (a town in the French countryside) is the younger sister. She comes to Paris for a few days to visit her sister. She also has an interview with a publishing house regarding a novel she wrote. Martine is a rich bored housewife with a young son who idles her life away. Fancy trivial stuff like pampering herself, going to art galleries, having lunch at restaurants occupies her time.
They are total opposites. Martine constantly picks on Louise for being a silly country bumpkin. She is an uptight, very critical and highly sarcastic bad itch! Louise on the other hand is a refreshing breath of fresh air. She is always smiling, sees the good in people, always positively centered and affectionate in an saccharine manner to the point of annoyance to the anal retentive Martine.
The film focuses on the contrasting characteristics of the two sisters. The way they deal with different scenarios, the way they interact with other people, how they act in public. It offers a good insight on how different sisters can be despite the fact that they are related by blood.
Martine does have a 'good' side which occasionally manifest itself. One night when they couldn't sleep, they see a TV show from their childhood days. Martine loosens up and starts goofing around with Louise. So the director wants us to believe that Martine isn't so mean, after all. There is a rather deep reason behind Martine's hard fisted reaction towards life. It isn't blaringly revealed but the viewer does pick it up from the subtle gestures Martine exhibits in some scenes of the film.
Much of the funny and comedic scenes come courtesy of Louise as she struggles to adjust to the Parisian lifestyle. Yet she still retains this air of innocent almost childlike quality that is so endearing you can't help but feel really upset when Martine keeps berating her sister for minor mistakes.

Isabelle Huppert portrays Martine. If you follow French cinema you will know that she essentially likes to play complicated and flawed women who deviates from the normal nature of things. So to see her in a 'normal' role is an eye opener even if in this film, she is cruel sister. Catherine Frot's twinkling eyes are very expressive. She is such a delight to watch as Louise. The plot has a constant flow to it and there isn't any dull moment. Cinematic visual is beautifully scenic, it is Paris after all.
It made me miss my favorite city in the world when I saw the scene of Louise on the upper deck of a double Decker tourist bus passing by known landmarks like the Place Vendome, La Bastille and Plaza Trocadero.

After the film ended, I jokingly told my sister. You know, if you ever treat me like that, I will absolutely NOT hesitate to slap your face. I doubt I have the patiently pleasant nature of Louise in me. Although I am trying to have a more positive outlook in life.
But thank God I have a deep and special bond with my only sister and that scenario won't ever happen to me in real life. Phew!

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