My Worst Nightmare: Isabelle Huppert Loosens Up

The great French actress Isabelle Huppert seems able to withstand any kind of abuse (often at the hands of Michael Haneke, see above) and all manner of indignity. Anne Fontaine's featherweight comedy My Worst Nightmare reminds us of Huppert's comic acuity and her willingness even to do a little slapstick. Here, playing an uptight gallery owner whose unmarried partnership is unraveling, she dances with strippers, blithely breaks glassware, and sleeps with a boorish contractor (Benoît Poelvoorde) who walks her into one drunken scene like a wheelbarrow—Huppert hooting with delight, marching on her hands, as if she's 7 years old. Her old boyfriend (André Dusollier) is seriously old, while Agathe still has some life in her. (They have a teen son between them, who's BFFs with the contractor's son.) Then, to Agathe's shock, white-haired publisher François takes up with a younger woman! François moves out, virile Patrick moves in, and everyone is quite civil about the coupling and uncoupling. (Only in France, right?) My Worst Nightmare is equally a sex comedy and a class comedy, as the haut-bourgeois Agathe and François both discover the earthy pleasures of drunken hookups and lowered standards. Given the huge success of The Intouchables, "loosen up" would appear to be the new national motto of France—or of French film comedies, at least. If Huppert continues to have this much fun onscreen, dour old Haneke may never hire her again. And that might be a good thing for them both.

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