After learning that Kelly Reichardt is the favorite filmmaker of Bong Joon Ho - the mastermind behind 2019's greatest film, Parasite - I admittedly went into this bracket with extremely high expectations.
When Bong Joon Ho won the coveted Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for his film Parasite, one person’s vote on the jury held special meaning for him: that of the director Kelly Reichardt. A pillar of American independent cinema, Reichardt favors quiet, minimalistic storytelling, often focused on the margins of society. As she once put it, “My films are just glimpses of people passing through.” Bong has spoken frequently of his appreciation for her work; he called the opening shot of her 2008 film, Wendy and Lucy, “one of the most beautiful opening scenes in the history of the movies.” - David Sims, The Guardian
And if you are a fan of either, I strongly recommend reading this adorable interview in its entirety here. But first, a little about Kelly...
Born in 1960's Miami, Reichardt developed a love of photography from an early age. She went on to earn her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and made her directorial debut in 1994 with the film River of Grass. But it would take over a decade before she started making feature films regularly.
"I had 10 years from the mid-1990s when I couldn’t get a movie made. It had a lot to do with being a woman. That’s definitely a factor in raising money. During that time, it was impossible to get anything going, so I just said, ‘Fuck you!’ and did Super 8 shorts instead." - The Guardian
She's known for finding her locations first, and her story second, and has paved the way for what critics call "neo-neo-realism." Her dialogue is sparse, her plots simple, and her cinematography epic. The script days (the amount of time that passes in the film) are almost always less than a week; her films are windows into lives of simple people, and it's a small but richly textured capsule.
River of Grass (1994)
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Written by: Kelly Reichardt & Jesse Hartman
Starring: Lisa Donaldson, Larry Fessenden
IMDB Synopsis: Cozy, a dissatisfied housewife, meets Lee at a bar. A drink turns into a home break-in, and a gun shot sends them on the run together, thinking they've committed murder.
I had originally put First Cow down as one of the Reichardt films for this bracket, but since it's not available yet (and who knows if/when movie theaters will be operational again) I decided to look for another that was easier to find on a streaming service. I stumbled upon River of Grass and instantly remembered seeing the move trailer about 4 years ago. It had been re-released in 2016 after the film's distributor, Oscilloscope Laboratories, launched a Kickstarter in order to digitally restore the film, and made it's way around the Sundance Film Festival again, 22 years after it's original debut.
It looked grainy and weird and effortlessly cool, giving me the same kind of vibes I got from Ghost World and Reality Bites. It appeared to pay homage to an era without tokenizing it; intentional without trying too hard.
“A road movie without the road, a love story without the love, and a crime story without the crime.”— Kelly Reichardt
The graphic novel-based Ghost World is in a league of its own, however; River of Grass feels more like it was inspired by a shoebox full of vintage photographs and postcards, found in the sticky attic of a distant relative: the the visual journey is exceptionally well-curated but the narrative thread is sparse, but the two roads never really merge. At times it almost felt more like one of Lana Del Rey's more experimental music videos than a feature film - not a bad thing, but, you know... not what I was expecting.
“Lee and I had crossed that straight line that dad called the law, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as I tumbled deeper into a life of crime. After all, murder was thicker than marriage, and Lee and I were now bound by the life we took.”
I wish I'd known a bit more about her filmmaking before I'd walked into these, because I feel like I would've appreciated her approach a bit more. The trailers do make it look like they'll be much faster-paced - and that's not to say I have the attention span of Michael Bay fan - but when you set up a premise that echoes Natural Born Killers and True Romance, one can't help but anticipate a little more action.
That being said, I cannot emphasize enough how fucking cool the whole movie looked. The heavy filmic grain and square screen easily could've come across as pretentious, but instead it was nostalgic; it made me feel like I was watching a vintage slideshow, or going through my grandmother's scrapbook.
“I stood near the water thinking about different things, and sometimes catching a glimpse of my life as if I was thumbing through an old photo album.”
Meek's Cutoff (2010)
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Written by: Jonathan Raymond
Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson
IMDB Synopsis: Settlers traveling through the Oregon desert in 1845 find themselves stranded in harsh conditions.
If River of Grass was like going through the polaroid section of an antique store, watching this movie was kind of like walking through a museum: it was undeniably beautiful, intensely quiet, and I enjoyed it a lot less than I thought I would. I wanted to like it. I know all the cool kids like it. But my god, it was boring! There! I said it!
I could deal with the little-to-no-dialogue. I figured out pretty quickly that this wasn't a plot-driven film, and I was okay with that. I appreciated that the landscape was, essentially, the main character. I accepted that this was an "about the journey not the destination" kind of show. But the silence. The aching, never-ending silence. And I'm not an idiot, I KNOW that was intentional. You really fucking feel like you are in the middle of goddamn nowhere, and it's the 1800s, and when the sun sets it is dark AF. ...But also like it's a movie, and we will forgive you if you light your actors so we can see them? Literally half this movie is in the actual DARK because Reichardt refused to use anything more than an actual sad and tiny campfire to illuminate her actor's faces when anything was filmed at night. Sure, it was authentic... but was it worth it? Seriously, this is what it looked like:
You're supposed to feel overwhelmed by the silence, but I have to wonder why. I felt a kinship between Reichardt's eye and that of Jane Campion, particularly The Piano (I agonized over including Campion in this bracket, but since The Piano is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time I felt it would be unfair; plus I intentionally wanted to focus on directors with less accolades). Honestly, one of the reasons that film is in my top 10 is because of the score - it's extraordinary, and one of my favorite classical music pieces to listen to. It shapes the story, it becomes as much of a character as Reichardt's desolate wasteland does - but it fills a space, rather than carving out one. It elevates the film from a silent pseudo-documentary to an artistic masterpiece; it gives it an edge of magic that Meek's Cutoff could've benefited from tremendously.
I said that this wasn't a plot-driven film, but you definitely couldn't call it a character-driven story either. If I were to have you guess which character I was thinking of and I wasn't allowed to describe their outfits or the actor who plays them, you would have no idea who was who (except for Meeky McBeardy Face and The Native American). Pink Dress & White Bonnet Girl? Chick who played Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter? That girl who's dating the big brother from Little Miss Sunshine in real life? And I literally have no idea who any of their husbands are (except for Dano) because they all look exactly the same and have not one characteristic distinction between them.
I'm learning that when it comes to movies, I like to feel a sense of escapism - not necessarily fantasy, but I like to feel one degree above real life. I like beauty. I like fully developed, unique, weird characters with rich backstories and detailed idiosyncrasies. I like wide ranges of emotion, even if that emotion is boredom or desperation or restlessness. I don't like when movies explicitly tell you what to feel and when to feel it, but I also don't like feeling like the movie I'm watching is hard work. And Meek's Cutoff most certainly was.
And the winner is...
I'm frustrated by this idea that "good films" have to be exhausting and take so much effort to watch. Imagine if we held the same standards to food: "You can tell this was a good steak because it was as bleak and godless as the Oregon Trail; the salad took extreme concentration to digest; the soufflé offered no conclusion, but merely suggested a quiet murmur of what dessert could be."
I know it's not a perfect analogy. But at the end of the day, I want my movies to be a little, well - yummy. River of Grass was hardly delicious, but it was just weird enough to be memorable, and it had it's tasty moments.
Before I begin eviscerating these films as kindly as possible, a little bit about the prolific Liliana Cavani...
Born and raised in Italy, Cavani is the daughter of an architect father and a cinephile mother, who used to take her to the film house every Sunday. She studied literature and philology (the study of the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages) from Bologna University in 1960, and had intended to become an archaeologist before switching gears entirely and choosing to pursue film instead. She attended Rome's well-respected "Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia", (Experimental Cinematography Center), and then like so many of our other Mad Matriarchs, began making documentaries to gain experience. It wasn't until her film The Night Porter in 1974 that she began to receive more critical (and occasionally controversial) acclaim for her filmmaking.
The Night Porter (1974)
Directed by: Liliana Cavani
Written by: Liliana Cavani & Italo Moscati
Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling
IMDB Synopsis: After a chance meeting at a hotel in 1957, Holocaust survivor Lucia and Nazi officer Max, who tortured her, resume their sadomasochistic relationship.
It honestly blows my mind how a movie with such an OUTRAGEOUSLY FASCINATING DESCRIPTION could actually end up being so totally... underwhelming, in such a variety of ways. It was as disappointing in it's lack of sensitivity as it was in it's lack of brutality, which is an extremely odd sentiment to carry away from a film with such a barbaric premise.
Honestly, do yourself a favor and skip it entirely. Watch this kinky Cabaret reinterpretation of Salome (trigger warning: it ends with a head in a box) and read the Roger Ebert quote and consider yourself 1 hour and 58 minutes richer for having not viewed this wildly mark-missing tragedy through your fingers (like I did).
"The Night Porter" is as nasty as it is lubricious, a despicable attempt to titillate us by exploiting memories of persecution and suffering. It is (I know how obscene this sounds) Nazi chic. It's been taken seriously in some circles, mostly by critics agile enough to stand on their heads while describing 180-degree turns, in order to interpret trash as "really" meaningful..."
"...That's not to say I object per se to the movie's subject matter, a sadomasochistic relationship taken up again 15 years after the war by a former SS concentration camp officer and the inmate he raped and dominated when she was a young girl. I can imagine a serious film on this theme -- on the psychological implications of shared guilt and the identification of the slave with the master -- but "The Night Porter" isn't such a film; it's such a superficial soap opera we'd laugh at it if it weren't so disquieting." - Roger Ebert
I wanted so badly to like this movie not just because of it's incredible premise, but because it was made by this badass Italian woman in the fucking 70's when women really weren't making movies, and they certainly weren't making movies like THIS. It is perhaps the most scathing insult I could give a Matriarch, so forgive me in advance: but if I hadn't known any better I would've assumed hands-down that this was directed by a man. The male gaze is so aggressively overwhelming in this that I really can't pin down whether Cavani was simply trying to emulate the toxic masculinity that was considered "normal" in her era or if she genuinely struggles with sexism herself.
I agree wholeheartedly with Ebert in that it wasn't the subject matter that was off-putting, but in how casually Cavani handled it. I think what's the most disappointing about this film is that it had SO MUCH POTENTIAL to be so, so much better, and we know this to be true because there are EXAMPLES of excellent films that deal with the master-slave dynamic in a way that is respectful, intellectual, and fucking compassionate:
I have always had a deep and respectful fascination with the BDSM community, largely because of how many sex-positive and pure things I have seen come out of it. Most people incorrectly think that BDSM stands for “bondage dominance sadomasochism.” It actually stands for: “Bondage Discipline Submission Masochism.” The key difference? Submission, not sadism. It’s not just about taking pleasure in hurting someone else, it’s about experiencing the vulnerability of letting an other control you - this requires extreme trust and trustworthiness (which is why people with this lean tend to seek it out from a professional; it doesn’t tend to work with a “normal” partner, because there’s usually just too much personal baggage that confuses the boundaries). So we know that in BDSM relationship there is a “Dom” (dominant) and a “Sub” (submissive). You know what those essentially are? The Lover and the Beloved. Honestly, they’re just extreme, exaggerated, aggressive expressions of those two roles.
That’s partly why so many people had such a vitriolic reaction to the 50 Shades phenomenon, and why I am so bitterly disappointed with The Night Porter: THAT IS NOT WHAT BDSM IS ABOUT. These stories are about the wrong kind of control - total ownership of a human being, of making a woman a man's literal slave - in and out of the bedroom. They are abusive, manipulative, controlling, and wrong, which is the antithesis of an authentic BDSM arrangement.
I am also bitterly disappointed with this film because I really, really thought (okay, fantasized) from the description that the Holocaust survivor was going to be the Dom... how much cooler would that have been?? Picture this: a beta male, closeted Sub is forced by the Gestapo to become an SS Officer. He isn't racist, in fact he really likes Jewish women. ...He even has this dirty little fantasy of getting beaten up by a Jewish woman, he doesn't know why, maybe his German guilt? He just wants some hot Ashkenazi broad to wear sharp stillettos and walk up and down his back until he bleeds and cries. Then one day on the job, some officers are making fun of him, saying he's never raped a Jew before. They taunt and bully him into dragging a particularly beautiful young woman out behind the Holocaust dumpsters... but he can't do it. The woman - played by a precocious and exquisite Charlotte Rampling - mocks him. "Oh, the little Nazi can't get it up?" She throws dirt in his face. She spits on him. She takes his whip and beats him. He likes it. She likes it. They make passionate, consensual love, and continue to do so until he sneaks her out of Germany and they open their own BDSM dungeon in NYC, THANK YOU, YOU'RE WELCOME, THE END.
Ripley's Game (2002)
Directed by: Liliana Cavani
Written by: Charles McKeown & Liliana Cavani, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Starring: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Lena Headey
IMDB Synopsis: A dying family man in need of money is persuaded to assassinate a European crime boss.
Once again, my mind is BLOWN by how much this movie misses the mark.
Contrary to the IMDB synopsis, the premise is essentially about this sociopathic part-time hit man (Malkovich) who gets Very Slightly Snubbed at a party by his totally average-Joe neighbor, Dougray Scott, who's only real character traits are that he is dying of Leukemia and is married to Baby Cersei.
So basically just ripping of Albert Camus' The Stranger, Malkovich decides to exact his totally hurtful, gratuitous, and unnecessary revenge on Baby Cersei's Dying Husband by paying his Hit Man Boss to hire the poor guy to assassinate someone??? And then what??? Like just die from guilt??? Unclear.
And we never find out, because the Hit Man Boss decides to get greedy, and pressure BCDH to assassinate someone ELSE (this is all for money, of course, which he's being convinced will help his family after he dies). But Malkovich is like "no I just wanted him to murder one guy" and Hit Man Boss is like "too bad" and then the second hit job goes TERRIBLE probably because BCDH is a super shitty hit man and Malkovich has to bail him out but one of the targets doesn't die so then BCDH and Malkovich have to hide away in his giant mansion in Italy together and wait for the the survivor and his cronies to come attack them but don't worry, Malkovich kills them all, but only survives because FUCKING BABY CERSEI'S IDIOT DYING HUSBAND STEPS IN FRONT OF A BULLET FOR HIM.
AND THIS IS LITERALLY ALL BECAUSE THIS POOR SAP SAID ONE KIND OF MEAN THING ABOUT MALKOVICH AT A PARTY. WTF.
I suppose I can't totally fault Cavani for the plot because this was based on a novel (one of a trilogy about this Mr. Ripley character, apparently), but from what I can guess, Mr. Ripley is a fuck ton more interesting than Cavani gives him credit for. When I say that this film misses the mark, once again I am sorely feeling the gaping void of satire when it could've been expertly used:
A totally ridiculous and easily offended sociopath who moonlights as a hitman gets very moderately insulted at a party and sets up an elaborate and totally absurd revenge plot that goes hilariously wrong. THAT IS PRIME FODDER FOR SATIRE. Movies like The Game and Ready or Not did an aggressively better job at handling the tension between violence, humor, and absurdity, and managed to do so while finding moments of real anguish and existentialism. Ripley's Game just took itself so seriously, which is not only a ludicrous position for a movie about such an absurd character to take, it's a goddamn waste.
And the winner is...
I think one of the biggest let-downs of this bracket was that I am walking away from it feeling like I have very little to say about Cavani. I couldn't pick her directing style out of a line up, much less describe or analyze it. There was nothing memorably beautiful about either film (except, of course, that Cabaret scene from The Night Porter, as well as a totally unnecessary but lovely ballet number earlier on), no strong style choices good or bad. I never got a sense for her taste or aesthetic, or for what was important to her, other than gravely misplaced senses for when to demand levity or seriousness.
So I am doing something unprecedented, BECAUSE I CAN: I am moving the fuck on.
MARJANE SATRAPI FOR THE WIN!!!
Satrapi moves on in the competition because I am forfeiting these films. I refuse to let a movie about a Nazi raping a teenager win, and I refuse to give the award to a totally mediocre and lame anti-satire about bullying a guy with Leukemia. While I have appreciation for how Cavani trail-blazed women-helmed cinema in Europe, she doesn't hold a candle to what Satrapi has accomplished artistically.
Although the nature of this project incurs some friendly competition, the heart of the blog was always about education. I wanted to learn more about the under-publicized, under-appreciated, and underrated women directors of the world, and I for one can say that I stumbled upon an actual iconic GEM when it comes to Marjane Satrapi. I vaguely remember seeing Persepolis a million years ago in high school and thinking for the first time, "Oh wow, cartoons can be for adults? And not just, like, The Simpsons?" (a show which, I must add, was forbidden in our Evangelical Christian household). The point is, I had no idea yet that a simple comic could be used to tell a powerful story. I thought they were just for the Sunday Funnies, or for doodling on the back of church programs during particularly long and monotonous services.
"People are so afraid to say the word 'comic'," she told the Guardian newspaper in 2011. "It makes you think of a grown man with pimples, a ponytail and a big belly. Change it to 'graphic novel' and that disappears. No: it's all comics."
Satrapi was raised in Tehran, Iran, by Marxist parents who were actively against the monarchy of the last Shah. She was only 10 years old when the Iranian Revolution happened in 1979, and her family began to experience the oppression of Muslim fundamentalism. Concerned for the safety of their precocious and outspoken young teenager, Satrapi's parents sent her to Vienna to attend school. After a brief stint (and failed young marriage) back in Tehran, she relocated to Paris, France, where she still lives today.
By the age of 30, she published her autobiographical comic books (NOT graphic novel, see above quote) for which she received global and critical acclaim. (Ironically, Chicago would later remove her books from schools because they believed them to be too "graphic and violent." HILARIOUS.) A few years later, Persepolis was adapted into a film, and a few years after that, her other successful comic book, Chicken with Plums, was also adapted for the screen.
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
Written by: Marjane Satrapi (comic), Vincent Paronnaud (scenario)
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian
IMDB Synopsis: A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution.
Before I begin discussing this phenomenal and important film, I would like to take this moment to pay tribute to the significance of animation.
I know it's off-brand for me, but I won't rant. I will simply leave these pictures below, as a tribute to moments in recent animation that have Made Sarah Cry (a rarity). If my cold black heart can feel something from some squiggly lines and remote voice actors, then my god so can you. The takeaway: animation is powerful.
Still not convinced that a mostly black-and-white animated feature about a teenage girl during the Iranian Revolution entirely in French is for you? I suppose I can't blame you. After all, how could a story so niche and specific illicit any universal pang of affection?
How could simple black and white images evoke any deep or meaningful emotions, or properly grasp the devastation of war, death, pain, or loss?
How could a mere cartoon effectively communicate the childhood trauma of saying goodbye to your favorite uncle in prison, or hiding from bombs in the middle of the night?? Surely a simple comic couldn't capture - through the eyes of a child, no less! - the selfishness of humanity during war-time rationing or the moment one abandons God??!!
I MEAN LITERALLY, ONE CAN ONLY IMAGINE THAT NAUGHT BUT THE MIND OF AN UNCULTURED RUBE COULD BE TOUCHED BY THE ANIMATED ITERATION OF
the awkwardness of puberty, the joy of discovering punk rock, the shame of adolescence, the confusion of being a foreigner in a foreign land, the memory of precious conversations with a family member now gone, the crippling anguish of falling in love, realizing your friends are trash for the first time, rocking out alone in your room, the bitter and overwhelming loneliness of growing up anywhere, any time, at all, ever...
Or, perhaps most memorably, the devastation of a heartbreak, and the never-ending to journey to feel "normal" again...
...Perhaps I have made my point.
This film is as devastating as Chicken with Plums is whimsical (seriously, so much whimsy). Perhaps more so. There is something terribly poignant about the genuinely universal threads in Persepolis, and it is as enriching as it is heartbreaking to learn about a time in history not so long ago that affected so many people. This surviving artist is but one small mercy of that time, and her story is a goddamned international treasure.
Chicken with Plums (2011)
Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Written by: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Edouard Baer, Isabella Rossellini
IMDB Synopsis: Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death.
If Amelie and Jojo Rabbit had a baby, then forced that baby to read Nietsche and Camus, listen to Tom Waits records, chain smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, and develop a drinking and/or gambling problem, then you would have Chicken with Plums.
Essentially, a totally underrated and delightfully whimsical fairy tale complete with The Angel of Death, Isabella Rossellini's giant breasts, and a magical violin. Pair all this with nods to Coraline-esque animation and a devastating score, and it's honestly a shame that our delicate American palettes can't handle tragedy like the French do, because this movie should be right up there in the international cult-classic hall of fame.
I mean, come on! Humor, whimsy, AND melancholy?? THOSE ARE MY THREE FAVORITE MOVIE INGREDIENTS!!!
But alas, even I cannot escape my fragile American sensibilities, because the moment it ended and I shouted, "OH COME ON, WE GET IT, YOU'RE FRENCH, BUT JESUS CHRIST." It's really fucking sad, dude.
Perhaps the most tragic part of it all is how... mundane the tragedy is. A depressed musician in a loveless marriage loses the last thing that ever gave him pleasure on this earth - his violin - and he resigns himself to lay in bed and wait for death. We see his life for exactly what it is: a misunderstood and neglected wife, vulnerable children pining for a present father-figure, and a man who just can't heal from his own baggage long enough to get his shit together. As my theatre professor used to say, "Tragedy is breaking a nail; comedy is falling down a well and dying." In this, you get a bit of both.
If an anti-hero is the name of a protagonist who is also the villain, what do you call the man who is the protagonist but not at all heroic and also really, really depressing? I suppose I'll just call him The Violinist.
There are two ways to look at this film:
1) The Violinist spends the eight days before his totally preventable and actually kind of lazy suicide by lying in bed and whimsically moping over the past like a gigantic emotionally stunted baby, or
2) The Violinist, overwhelmed by the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, spends eight precious days reminiscing over every delicious detail of his better memories, savoring them as if they were his favorite last meal (CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THAT DISH IS?)
And both are true. His life was both epic and mundane, tragic and ordinary, plagued with heartbreaking loss and speckled with the daily struggles that every person endures. Just as yours and mine are. Only for The Violinist (and, luckily, for us), we get to experience this juxtaposition with the careful and brilliant hands of the magician, the weaver, the alchemist, Marjane Satrapi:
I don't know how many times I can safely use the word "whimsical" (that makes 7 if you count the photo from the trailer; I made them bold for your counting ease) without looking like a total hack, but this is seriously a film worth checking out. I can't gush enough about it because Persepolis was such a fucking BANGER and I don't want it to eclipse this remarkable little gem.
And the winner is...
"Comedy has to be done en clair. You can't blunt the edge of wit or the point of satire with obscurity. Try to imagine a famous witty saying that is not immediately clear."
“We haven’t ended racial caste, but simply redesigned it.” - Michelle Alexander
"Let’s not forget how many martyrs we put in the ground in the 60s and 70s. Let’s not forget how many of our leaders had to leave the country or are in prison. You’ve stripped out a whole generation of leadership. You ran them out of the country, you put them in prison, you put them in cemeteries… You can tell the story of white leadership in America and never mention the FBI one time. You can’t tell the story of black leadership - not ONE! - without having to deal with the full weight of the criminal justice system weaponizing against black “dissent.” - Van Jones
Denis’s films can be hard to find in the United States, but she is beloved by many young American filmmakers for, among other things, her artful confrontations with race. Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” which won last year’s Academy Award for Best Picture, told me, “I get the sense that she truly just doesn’t give a shit, that it doesn’t occur to her that she shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to handle this material. It’s not a foreign world to her, in a way it might appear to be when you look at her and see a white Frenchwoman.” He continued, “You watch ‘Chocolat,’ and it’s remarkable. This is a first movie by someone who has not one question about what her rights are as a storyteller.” - Alice Gregory
"Isabelle Huppert, small and slender, embodies the strength of a fighter. In so many films, she is an indomitable force, yet you can't see how she does it. She rarely acts broadly. The ferocity lives within. Sometimes she is mysteriously impassive; we see what she's determined to do, but she sends no signals with voice or eyes to explain it. There is a lack of concern about our opinion; she will do it, no matter what we think her reasons are." - Roger Ebert