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France 2010
Directed by
Marc Fitoussi
102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


The French are very fond of seeing their favourite actors play good-hearted gimps stumbling along on life’s journey – Daniel Auteil as a head-waiter who befriends a potential suicide in Après Vous (2003) or Gérard Depardieu as an illiterate handyman who befriends a lonely old woman in My Afternoons With Margueritte (2010). They tend to be charming, more or less sentimental productions that entertain and reassure us that everything turns out well in the end. Copacabana is a card-carrying member of the club.

Isabelle Huppert, an actress who we haven’t seen much of in recent years and is best known for playing asthenically neurotic women in films such as The Piano Teacher is back as Babou, a middle-aged woman whose life-long but essentially scatty commitment to being free of bourgeois conventionality is starting to wear thin particularly now that her adult only child (Lolita Chammah, Huppert’s real life daughter) is about to get married and doesn’t want her to attend the wedding for fear of what her in-laws will think. So o prove that she can go straight Babou gets a job selling time-share apartments in Ostende, Belgium, a desperate move for a woman with a disdain for capitalist society. But can a leopard change its spots?

Given its soft treatment of being broke and unemployed, Copacabana works because of Fitoussi’s fast-moving script and Huppert’s tireless performance. Whatever is, or is not happening the camera follows the volatile Babou as she sails from one scrape to another, one minute trying to please, the next, telling the object of her affection to “foute le camp”. She is a character who is both loving and unkind, spontaneous and thoughtless, selfish and generous, Not exactly likeable but we can see that she tries and as a character she is more fully rounded than is often the case in this kind of film. The net effect may not be greatly different and the ending is a little ridiculous but as a modest entertainment, Copacabana serves the purpose.

DVD Extras: Theatrical trailer

Available from: Madman




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