Photo of the Week


The Square Louvois, with the Biblio-
thèque Nationale in the background.
© 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).

All-night art
> Nuit Blanche is an all-night festival of outdoor art events, plus special happenings in museums, which will stay open late for free. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 1.

Strange Happenings in St. Germain
> The exhibition Bizarro, with works by a number of artists, fills seven Left Bank galleries with “Bêtes de Scènes et Sacrés Monstres.” Don’t miss the Meta-perceptual Helmets by the Irish duo Cleary/Connolly
at the Librairie Alain Brieux, which allow the viewer to see forward and backward, for example, or the way a cyclops or horse would see. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 30.

Two meals for the price of one
> Restaurants participating in Tous au Restaurant offer a second fixed-price menu for free. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Feel-good films
> Classic movies starring the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, Cary Grant and more are sure to raise a smile at the festivalQu’est-ce qu’on Attend pour Être Heureux!, Forum des Images, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Indian films
> Indian film festival. Musée Guimet, Paris, through Sept. 30.

Chanson française
> L’Estival features singers performing in French. Various locations, Saint Germain-en-Laye, through Oct. 8.

Antique fair in a bucolic setting
> A visit to the Foire de Chatou antique market and regional products fair makes a great weekend outing. Chatou, through Oct. 2.

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

Classical, world, jazz & electronic
> The Festival d’Ile de France holds concerts in various locations in Paris and elsewhere, through Oct. 9.

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.

Music on the beach
> Sandy beach and nightly concerts or DJs at La Plage de Glaz’Art. Paris, through Oct. 1.

Amazing gardens
> The popular Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loireis held annually in the park of the Château de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire, through Nov. 2.


Film - Drama



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

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