Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-Montmartre

Street in Montmartre. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Christmas singalong
> So British! Concert: Join the choir and sing along. Practice session on Dec. 10 or click here for singing tutorials. Philharmonie de Paris, Dec. 16.

Gourmet food fair
> Just in time for Christmas, the Salon Saveurs. Espace Champerret, Paris, Dec. 2-5.

Organic food and wine fair
> Vinibio and Bio Gourmet: 120 winemakers and 80 food specialists. Carreau du Temple, Paris, Dec. 3-5.

Christmas markets
> Mulled wine and gifts galore. A full list of Christmas markets in Paris. Various locations and dates.

American Contemporary Chamber Music Festival

ParisUpdate-Mona-Bismarck
> Hear Now Paris. Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris, Dec. 2-4.

Art Fair
> The Experiences Art Fair shows art in empty buildings. 14 Place Jacques Bonsergent, Paris, through Dec. 6.

African music and film
> Africolor cultural festival. Various locations in Paris suburbs, through Dec. 24.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Katell Quillévéré’s Réparer les Vivants, followed by cocktails (tickets online only). Le Brady, Paris, Dec. 1.

Master of Indian cinema
Festival Satyajit Ray. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Dec. 14.

Cultures of the world onstage
> Music, dance, theater and ritual performances from around the world at the Festival de l'Imaginaire. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 20.

Contemporary arts festival
> The Festival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.

 

Film - Drama

 

Copacabana

copacabana, isabelle huppert

The fearless Babou (Isabelle Huppert) sets off to sell seaside time-shares in the middle of winter.

Copacabana, written and directed by Marc Fitoussi, is a fresh, completely absorbing little film about people – or rather, one person – you feel you ...

copacabana, isabelle huppert

The fearless Babou (Isabelle Huppert) sets off to sell seaside time-shares in the middle of winter.

Copacabana, written and directed by Marc Fitoussi, is a fresh, completely absorbing little film about people – or rather, one person – you feel you might have known. Isabelle Huppert steps away from the tortured characters she often plays to portray Babou, a free-spirited, unemployed single mother (no father is ever mentioned) living in the North of France with her straitlaced daughter, Esméralda (played by Lolita Chammah, Huppert's real-life daughter), who one day announces that she is going to marry her accountant boyfriend, Justin (Joachim Lombard). Babou is dismayed, because she thinks Justin is far “too serious,” but she is even more dismayed when Esméralda tells her that she is not welcome at the wedding. Esméralda thinks Babou will embarrass her in front of Justin's family and has told them she is in Brazil (where Babou has always longed to go but has never visited) and won't be back in time for the wedding.

The character of the “kooky” Babou could have been very grating, but Fitoussi has managed to avoid heartwarming cliches, showing Babou's annoying, selfish, wrongheaded and, yes, embarrassing sides as well as her winning charms. And Huppert plays it perfectly in every scene, expressing the rejected mother's hurt feelings with powerful understatement, as when she calmly says to her daughter after the announcement about the marriage, “You no longer have the right to call me maman,” as she clears away their unfinished dinner.

Babou is not one to take such adversity lying down, however, so she decides to get a job to earn some money and respectability. Since she has no particular experience, the only job she can find in the distressed north is a nightmarish position as a tout for a new time-share apartment building in the Belgian seaside “resort” of Ostend. Selling a vacation apartment in the streets of Belgium in the freezing wintertime is no picnic, but Babou surprises everyone except herself by excelling at it – until her nonconformist ways irreparably alienate her from her employers.

The great thing about Babou is that she is unapologetically and fearlessly herself, and you'll certainly find yourself rooting for her. I have only one small complaint about this movie: the ending offers a too-neat wrap-up that is slightly off-kilter with the realism of the rest of the film. Otherwise Copacabana is a great little movie.

Heidi Ellison

Support Paris Update by ordering films starring Isabelle Huppert from Paris Update's Amazon store at no extra cost. Click on your preferred Amazon location: U.K., France, U.S.

Buy other films, music and books from the Paris Update store: U.K., France, U.S.

More film reviews.

Reader Reaction: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).

© 2010 Paris Update