Movie Review: 'Amateur'
Only a fan of Hal Hartley’s dissociated, Frenchified style of filmmaking — part rough action, part existentialism and cigarette smoke — is going to enjoy this fourth dissociated, Frenchified feature from the maker of Trust and Simple Men. Everyone else is going to feel lost in the haze. Isabelle Huppert drabs down to play an unconventional ex-nun (most of them don’t live in artsy lower Manhattan, writing porn for a living, do they?) trying to divine her mission on earth. Hartley regular Martin Donovan plays a former pornographer with amnesia. Elina Lowensohn plays a girl who used to act in his films. The events that twine the three together include the disposition of an incriminating floppy disk and pursuit by a couple of sadistic accountants, but why one event follows another is a matter of caprice. And because the characters speak in uninflected tones, the emotional lives they lead feel equally arbitrary. Hartley has said that his obsessions are religion, sex, and money, but in Amateur, obsession doesn’t translate into an articulate point of view. C-