Loulou

A favorite from PFA's recent Maurice Pialat retrospective. In a crowded nightclub, Nelly (Huppert), bourgeois-bred and married to an advertising executive, is taking her passions out for air. She finds herself dancing with a happy, drunken lout, leaves with him, and stays with him. Maurice Pialat, consummate director of character, explores a woman's multifarious desires for sexual liberation in Loulou. (The film is drawn from the life of the screenwriter Arlette Langmann.) Though the title carries the name of Gérard Depardieu's leather-jacketed lothario Loulou, it is as object, not subject. Depardieu graciously plays along, before our eyes calibrating his outsized, undereducated, hypersexual character to Huppert/Nelly's perception of him. For her part, Nelly strives to be-well, to be Jeanne from La cérémonie (see June 30), even as she and Loulou make stabs at normal living. If there is a question in this film, it is how much Nelly will shape-change before desire is played out.

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