Folies Bergére (Marc Fitoussi, 2014)
If romanticised infidelity floats your boat, get right on this. But if you don’t quite get that blasé attitude to monogamy, then Folies Bergére may irk you just a tad. Brigitte (Isabelle Huppert) and Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) are recent empty nesters, running a cattle farm in Normandy. As thrilling as that sounds, the marriage is getting a bit stale, and Brigitte is tempted by a young Parisian (Pio Marmaï) who is visiting next door. She feeds her husband some lie about needing to go to Paris to see a dermatologist, and off she goes to stage a run-in with the young man. Though we never quite know exactly what her intentions are for him, things don’t go as planned, and in Paris she has a chance encounter with visiting Dane, Jesper (Michael Nyqvist). Sparks fly, you can guess where it leads. (Hint: it’s not the kitchen.)
For me, there’s something supremely off-putting about films where protagonists cheat and it’s all okay in the end and la la la la. NO. It’s NOT okay! You did a horrible thing! Depending on your attitude to infidelity, you may be able to see past this. If you can handle Woody Allen films (where this pretty much always happens) you should be fine, because at least Brigitte shows some small consideration for her husband’s feelings (after the fact). Nevertheless, she made a pretty dick move – or even several. It’s possible that Folies Bergére is harder to take than other films involving infidelity because the cheatee isn’t portrayed as some one-dimensional douche that deserved it. I suppose it should be commended for that much.
Isabelle Huppert is probably more glamourous than most women her age (or is she just the norm in France?) but thankfully director Marc Fitoussi doesn’t go over the top in presenting Brigitte as such. Her clothes aren’t overly fancy, she wears a questionable hat, and she has a persisting rash on her neck that affects her body image. The skin problem normalised her somewhat, and provoked a little bit of compassion for her character, because we all know how much bad skin makes you feel like crap. Still, it’s no excuse for adultery.
One thing this film did certainly have going for it was the soundtrack. For a film about the older generation, there was some cool music to accompany it, which reflected a younger vibe. (Read: she WISHES she were that young and hip!) Folies Bergére is clearly aimed at older audiences, but this minor hint of coolness may endear it somewhat to younger viewers.
If you’ve seen the trailer, don’t bother with the movie (unless you’re super keen) because it shows almost the entire plot. If not, consider whether you can stomach a film about a person with a rash doing a bad thing. It’s not torture to sit through, but it’s not one of the better films you could be seeing this month.