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In 2002, Berlin was etait enchantee over Francois Ozon’s 8 Women. The camp take on an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, featuring a who’s who of French femme A listers — who jointly won Berlin’s Silver Bear for outstanding artistic achievement — used the German launchpad to become the year’s sleeper hit, earning more than $40 million worldwide.
Isabelle Huppert, best known for her intense performances as women on the edge — in films like Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher and Paul Verhoeven’s Elle — steals every scene as the singing, dancing spinster aunt who has a secret motive for murder. It wouldn’t be the last Berlin red carpet for Huppert.
The Cannes regular and recent Oscar nominee has braved the Berlinale chill for such competition titles as Brillante Mendoza’s Captive (2012), in which she played a hostage who survives a year of captivity in the Philippine jungle, and 2016’s Things to Come, playing a philosophy teacher battling through a slew of midlife crises, including the death of her mother, being fired from her job and dealing with her unfaithful husband. The latter won a best directing Silver Bear for helmer Mia Hansen-Love.
This year, the Elle star returns with Benoit Jacquot’s Eva in competition. Huppert plays the titular character, a mysterious woman who beguiles playwright Bertrand (Gaspard Ulliel) when he takes shelter in her chalet during a violent snowstorm. The 64-year-old Huppert has won best actress honors twice both in Cannes and Venice. Eva may be Berlin’s chance to even the score.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Feb. 19 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.
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