Mrs. Hyde ★★★½

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Madame Hyde, Serge Bozon's fifth directorial feature and second collaboration with Isabelle Huppert, is a strange film—ingenious, but modestly scaled; often bewildering, yet somehow always intuitively right; a mix of familiar narratives that nonetheless manages to feel startlingly original. Conceived by regular screenwriter Axelle Ropert as a gender-swapped, comedic riff on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 science-fiction tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (familiar to audiences through its over 100 stage, radio and screen adaptations) fused with the suburban classroom drama (a genre familiar, especially, to the French), it's a striking amalgam whose oddity may account for its Locarno Festival premiere, as opposed to a higher-profile film festival bow in Berlin, Cannes or Venice. Then again, that’s entirely unsurprising for a film that vibrates at such a rarefied frequency, whose movements are frisky and flighty, and the pleasures of which could easily be mistaken for ineptitude.

The rest at MUBI, with brief, introductory notes on the La lettre du cinéma circle—a subject for further research.

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