Merci Pour le Chocolat
Isabelle Huppert now gets praised in the kind of rapt tones once reserved for the likes of Liv Ullmann or Meryl Streep, but the Immortal Actress tag does her a disservice. It fails to register that this former frozen-faced beauty has let her hair down and reinvented herself as a femme fatale. The point isn’t that she’s a great artist, but that she’s finally having fun on screen.
In Merci Pour le Chocolat, a domestic thriller directed by the startlingly spry Claude Chabrol, Huppert gives what may be her wittiest passive-aggressive performance yet. She plays the smiling, devoted wife of a floppy- haired concert pianist (Jacques Dutronc) who treats her like very expensive wallpaper. When her turf is invaded by a seductive younger woman who happens to be a gifted pianist herself, she recognizes that there’s only one thing to do: kill the rival with kindness. Huppert has never been this cheerful, or lethal, and the movie itself is like Hitchcock’s ”Rebecca” reshot for House & Garden, with all the ghosts pulled out of the closet.