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A Film Diary

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Watched: 11 October

A disappointing blip for Isabelle Huppert, who has otherwise been picking some fascinating projects to work on of late, such as Valley Of Love, Elle, Things To Come and Louder Than Bombs. Here she plays Liliane, a former singing star whose career nose-dived after she narrowly missed out on winning a Eurovision Song Contest and who is now working on a shop floor in the less-glamorous surrounds of a pâté factory. She seemingly keeps herself to herself, has no current friends or family (or at least none are seen or referred to in the script, anyway) and drinks alone at home every evening. The film details a flirtation and romance with young boxer Jean (Kévin Azaïs, sporting a rather unflattering moustache that makes him look a bit like Paul Calf), an affair that seems to be the catalyst for the resurrection of her singing career, which is aided by a loan from a former record executive (it is implied the return payment involves sexual favours, though the film leaves this hanging ambiguously). Despite Huppert’s best efforts her character’s relationship with Jean is rather flat, and the second half of the film features far too many sequences in which she sings in front of audiences who look like they’ve been bussed in en masse from the set of Countdown; the actor can hold a tune, of course, but each one of Liliane’s performances here has disappointingly been filmed head on, without any particular flair or much variation, and as they stack up Souvenir enters a kind of dreary torpor that it cannot recover from. (**)

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