Aug. 28, 2013
There are certain actors
that always excite me, certain actors that always leave me with the feeling
that I not only saw something special, but actually experienced it in some way. Isabelle Huppert is one of those
actors. In Special Treatment (or Sans Queue Ni TÍte), she plays Alice
Bergerac, a prostitute who works on her own and has a rather special and
Equally interesting is
Bouli Lanners as Xavier Demestre, a psychoanalyst who is having personal crises
of his own, including the possible dissolution of his marriage. We are
introduced to these two different worlds, whose similarities are soon apparent
in large part due to the staging and editing of early scenes.
We see Alice preparing
for a client, looking at an index card that lists his particular needs. She
pulls out the required props, including a teddy bear, and dresses as a school
girl. Then we see Xavier preparing for his client, who enters, sits down and
says heís happier now. The film cuts back and forth between the two sessions,
and interestingly neither Alice nor Xavier says much during these scenes.
And then neither client
is completely satisfied. Alice tells hers that sheíll introduce him to a
younger colleague of hers, since he had trouble this time. And once heís left,
she takes out the next index card.
I love watching her
prepare for another client Ė the interesting props (dog bowl, chalk outline of
a body), the meticulous set-up. What happens next during the session is left to
our imagination. That, of course, is much more twisted than actually showing us
something. Isabelle Huppert is intoxicating and captivating, as always.
There is an interesting
little scene where her friend takes her out for her birthday. Alice points out
an old lady, saying she looks like her grandmother. Then Alice sings along with
a female entertainer. We donít see the old woman again, but the filmmaker has
done a good job of establishing where everyone is (and without a master shot),
and while Alice sings about no regrets and about how everything is wiped away
and forgotten, she glances again in the direction of the old woman. Itís brief,
but wonderful. She then sings, ďI care
nothing about the past.Ē
Meanwhile Xavier and his
wife are having troubles. She tells him she doesnít like what heís become. He
tells her heís moving out. She sits at the kitchen table, and there is a great
shot from the hall of him looking at her, then turning out the light in the hall,
leaving her beautifully framed by darkness.
And soon, through a
mutual acquaintance, Aliceís world and Xavierís world collide. Each thinks he
or she needs what the otherís profession has to offer. And yet each seems to
have become somewhat disillusioned with his or her own profession.
There is an excellent
scene where things go wrong with one of Aliceís clients. Whatís wonderful is
that itís difficult to tell just when things go wrong. At what point has he
leapt beyond their established routine? Itís fascinating and frightening to
watch. And yet there is a beauty to this
film. And a gentleness.
The DVD includes an
interview with director Jeanne Labrune. This is a written interview rather than
a filmed one, and Labrune talks about analysis and prostitution.
Special Treatment is in French, with English subtitles. It was
released on DVD January 17, 2012 through First Run Features.