FILM / Critical Round-Up

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The Independent Culture

'Isabelle Huppert plays her as a chalk-faced sphinx with saucer- wide mouth and eyes prone to sudden shock or crimson-rimmed tears . . . But around her the film is Bovaryesque in the wrong way. Instead of the crisp-edged satiric pessimism we expect from Chabrol here is a TV-style costumer as stuffy as it is static. The camera stands on one side of the room, the characters on the other and the Great Dialogue flaps over as regularly, ineluctably as an airport departure board.' Nigel Andrews, FT.

'Despite sterling work by Isabelle Huppert and a fine display of doltish manhood from Jean-Francois Balmer (the devoted husband), the end product feels more like a glassed-in museum exhibit than a film.' Geoff Brown, Times.

'Despite his assertion that he is faithful to the text, the director never explores the imaginative world that compels Flaubert's heroine, corseted as she was by the 19th century's stifling social code. A dour film in which even Isabelle Huppert seems weary, its only modern revision is that Emma pays her bills in Ecus.' Lizzie Francke, Guardian.


'Like his former associate, Mike Leigh, (Blair) is not big on grand narrative. Characters and the small gestures that they are built out of are more his mug of tea. Through the alchemy of improvisation, the director and his . . . actors invent a handful of the most passable types, each loaded with their very own set of behavioural luggage.' Lizzie Francke, Guardian.

'At first the film's extreme modesty casts a pall. Why, you may ask, are we watching these domestic spats and tangles blown up on the big screen? Television is clearly their home. But after a while you cease to notice: the eccentric characters suck you happily into their cramped little Kentish Town world.' Geoff Brown, Times.

'Though the whole cast is a joy, we must pick out the mop-headed charm and beatific distractions of Stephen Rea. He looks like an overgrown sheepdog; he acts as if he has just got out of bed and wants to go back.' Nigel Andrews, FT.


'Launching the feature career of Marshall Herskovitz, Jack the Bear is a prime example of how far Hollywood can blunder when it imposes some hard-sell scheme on to the most fragile of relationships.' Lizzie Francke, Guardian.

'Danny DeVito adopts two modes for the father's role: he capers around like an overgrown child, pulling mock-horrific faces, or he goes all out for a single parent's tearful concern. Neither spectacle is pleasant: he always pushes too hard.' Geoff Brown, Times.


'Being at Home with Claude begins as a movie but soon stiffens into the stage play on which it is based.' Nigel Andrews, FT.

'On stage, with Lothaire Bluteau as the rent boy, the results were apparently electrifying. On film, with Roy Dupuis and a shallow director, the words and passions remain obstinately inert.' Geoff Brown, Times.