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Movie review: 'Hidden Love'

In "Hidden Love," director Alessandro Capone's adaptation of Daniele Girard's novel, Isabelle Huppert's heroine, Danielle, has just failed in a suicide attempt and ends up institutionalized and in the care of psychiatrist.

March 04, 2011|By Kevin Thomas

Isabelle Huppert, surely the most formidable French screen actress of her generation, is attracted to playing women so driven that they sometimes, as in Michael Haneke's masterful "The Piano Teacher," succumb to madness. In "Hidden Love," director Alessandro Capone's adaptation of Daniele Girard's novel, Huppert's heroine, Danielle, has just failed in a suicide attempt and ends up institutionalized and in the care of psychiatrist Dr. Dubois (Greta Scacchi), who attempts to break through to her mute patient.

Huppert is here much better than her movie, which is absorbing thanks almost solely to the actress' sheer star power and intense focus. Without her, "Hidden Love" would be hopelessly glum.

Eventually, Danielle reveals that she gave birth to a child she didn't want, fathered by her husband, a man she didn't love. She resents her daughter and blames her for everything that goes wrong with her life, though Sophie (Melanie Laurent), now 23, is a beauty who seems surprisingly well adjusted for having grown up under such circumstances.

There's no clue to as why Danielle settled for her husband or why she seems so addicted to misery. As Dr. Dubois tries to help her, Sophie, who seems to love her mother in spite of Danielle's behavior, strives to be outspoken and responsible.

"Hidden Love" becomes an emotional roller coaster that attempts a high-risk conclusion, though the finale smacks more of contrivance than the stark irony for which it aims. Although director Capone is in over his head, his star proceeds coolly and with absolute conviction right up to the fade-out.


"Hidden Love." No MPAA rating. In French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 95 minutes. At the Culver Plaza, Culver City.

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