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TIFF: Huppert and Fontaine Talk Culture Clash Romantic Comedy My Worst Nightmare

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 16, 2011 at 11:44AM

Even the most mainstream French comedies are aimed at grown-ups in a way that most Hollywood movies are not. For My Worst Nightmare, Anne Fontaine's tenth feature, the writer-director concocted the idea of pairing brainy actress Isabelle Huppert, who has been at the top of the French food chain for many decades, with Belgian comedian Benoit Poelvoorde, who starred in Fontaine's Coco Before Chanel.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Even the most mainstream French comedies are aimed at grown-ups in a way that most Hollywood movies are not. For My Worst Nightmare, Anne Fontaine's tenth feature, the writer-director concocted the idea of pairing brainy actress Isabelle Huppert, who has been at the top of the French food chain for many decades, with Belgian comedian Benoit Poelvoorde, who starred in Fontaine's Coco Before Chanel.

The results are often amusing--how many times have the movies gone back to the high concept of the earthy everyman melting the high class ice goddess? At the start it seems impossible that imperiously chic art gallery owner Huppert could ever get in the sack with this rough-hewn handyman fuck-up. But believably, they do. By movie's end, she's smiling and sporting tight jeans. The movie will open in France and Belgium in November, and seeks North American distribution.

I flipcammed Huppert and Fontaine, below, with the trailer and a sampling of Toronto reviews.

Thompson on Hollywood

Screen Daily:

When a lusty and vulgar Belgian workman (Benoit Poelvoorde) barges into the ultra-orderly life of a frosty Parisian museum director (Isabelle Huppert) the gulf between the upper and lower classes gets a spirited workout in My Worst Nightmare (Mon pire cauchemar).

THR:

The comic friction of extreme opposites interacting yields some laughs early on, but this artificial quasi-romance becomes increasingly hard to swallow.

Variety:

Anne Fontaine's "My Worst Nightmare" isn't quite a nightmare for the actors saddled with ineptly formulaic material, but when the thesps include the likes of Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Poelvoorde, Andre Dussollier and Aurelien Recoing, it makes for a special kind of bad dream. Trucking in the standard situation of an uptight, bourgeois woman letting go around a lusty, clownish working-class man, pic is dated, clunky, indifferently staged and markedly unfunny. It's not all that commercial, either, though it tries so hard to be.

This article is related to: Interviews , Reviews, Video, Genres, Festivals, Toronto, Foreign, Romance, comedy, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.