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Ma Mère (2004) - Christophe Honoré

Related: Isabelle Huppert - mother - French cinema - 2004 - Georges Bataille

Challengingly stylish and original, Ma Mère is the story of Hélène (Isabelle Huppert), cool and in charge, her husband, and her teenage son Pierre (Louis Garrel), a pious Catholic boy back from boarding school. As Hélène confesses to her son about his father's infidelity, they hear he has been tragically killed in a car crash. This news sets in motion a wild series of parties involving drugs, alcohol and sex-filled nights out with Hélène and her female lover. Inexplicably, she pulls her son into her sordid lifestyle. When she mysteriously goes away, her son is left in the care of her mistress Ra (Joana Preiss) and Hansi (Emma de Caunes), an icy blonde sadist with whom he falls in love. --Amazon.com

Ma Mere (2004) - Christophe Honoré [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Interview with the director

Ma Mère is an adaptation of a book by Georges Bataille. Why Bataille?

Because he was an important figure in my path to becoming a writer. I grew up with the writings of Bataille, with his conviction that literature exists to give something to the world that it wouldn't have otherwise. That literature is essential to the world, that writing is along the lines of meditation. And also the expression of Evil. Bataille wrote that a sharp form of Evil of which literature is an expression « has for us sovereign value. But this conception doesn't require the absence of morality, but demands a hypermorality. » This radicalism of Bataille I see in contemporary writers like Bret Easton Ellis, Dennis Cooper or Sarah Kane. Those three writers have influenced me just as much as Bataille in the writing of this screenplay. --http://www.amourfou.at/subs/filme/mere/interview.htm [Jul 2004]

There have been rumours for years of Georges Bataille's notorious 'The Story of the Eye' making it to the big screen. In the event, it has been pre-empted by Christophe Honoré‚'s version of another Bataille novel, which - even if its imagery is not quite as lurid - is no less guaranteed to provoke. Louis Garrel, previously seen in Bertolucci's The Dreamers, sheds his inhibitions once again as Pierre, inducted by his mother H‚lène (Huppert) into her world of illicit desires and taboo-busting libertinism. After a night on the town with Hélène and her partner in crime R‚a (imposingly vampish name-to-watch Joanna Preiss), Pierre follows his own investigations into desire together with the disarmingly innocent-looking Hansi (de Caunes), but inevitably all roads lead back to Maman. Sceptics may feel that Bataille's heady philosophical blend of eroticism, spiritualism and morbidity takes some swallowing, but Honor‚ handles the tone with bold stylistic rigor. The Canary Islands locations making sun-bleached austerity as essential to the film's vision as is its steamy night-life scenes. Honor‚'s seriousness in addressing taboos makes him a new addition to the current school of confrontational French film-makers, including Catherine Breillat, Bruno Dumont and Philippe Grandrieux. Admirers of Isabelle Huppert will find this fearless performer absolutely compelling and unnerving in what surely counts as her most audacious, most defiant role since Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher. --Jonathan Romney, http://www.lff.org.uk/films_details.php?FilmID=486 [Nov 2004]

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