Irish Film Institute -Ma mere

Ma mere

Director: Christope Honore

France-Portugal-Austria-Spain| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 110 min

There have been rumours for years of Georges Battaille’s notorious The Story of the Eye making it to the big screen. In the event, it has been pre-empted by Christophe Honore’s version of another Bataille novel, which—even if its imagery is not quite as lurid—is on less guaranteed to provoke. Louis Garretl, previously seen in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, sheds his inhibitions once again as Pierre, who’s induced by his mother Helene (Isabelle Huppert) into her world of illicit desires and taboo-busting libertinism. After a night on the town with Helene and her partner in crime Rea (imposingly vampish name to watch Joanna Preiss), Pierre follows his own investigations into desire together with the disarmingly innocent-looking Hansi (Emma de Caunes), but inevitably all roads lead back to Maman.
Sceptics may feel that Bataille’s heady philosophical blend of eroticism, spiritualism and morbidity takes some swallowing, but Honore handles the tone with bold stylistic rigour, with the Canary Islands locations making sun-bleached austerity as essential to the film’s vision as is its steamy night-life scene. Honore’s seriousness in addressing taboos makes him a new addition to the current school of confrontational French filmmakers that includes Catherine Breillat, Bruno Dumont and Phillippe Grandrieux. Admirers of Isabelle Huppert will find this fearless performer absolutely compelling and unnerving in what surely counts as her most audacious, most defiant role since Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher.

Book Tickets