Monday Movie: Loulou, by David Bax
Almost 30 years after the release of Maurice Pialat’s sometimes hilarious, often uncomfortable Loulou, it would still be seen as a big deal for movie to star both Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu. Here, though, in the early stages of both their careers, their combined chemistry seems almost impossibly catalytic. Both actors remain potent onscreen presences but Loulou survives not just as an early nexus of two giants of French cinema but as a fearless analysis of the seductions of two economic classes.
At the film’s beginning, Nelly (Huppert) is married to Andre (Guy Marchand), an erudite and cultured player in the advertising world. When she meets brutish petty criminal Loulou (Depardieu), though, whatever intoxications of privilege Andre’s world has to offer pale in comparison to the drunken lout’s raw animal magnetism.
Pialat is well aware that the audience for a film like Loulou, at least the male part of it, has more in common with Andre than with Loulou. That’s what makes Nelly’s rejection of her world’s highbrow trappings so bitterly funny. Loulou is a selfish idiot and her infatuation with him plays less as a judgment of her than as one of the neutered self-regard of the intellectual set. Huppert and Depardieu have both made better movies but not together. Loulou is worth seeing for that reason alone.