The Lacemaker ★★★★½

La dentelliére / The Lacemaker (Claude Goretta, 1977) 9/10

Sad, gentle, heartbreaking fable about a relationship destroying a tender heart. A shy lonely girl (Isabelle Huppert) working in a beauty salon meets a shy bourgeoise student and they move in together - he studies while she passively looks after the apartment going about her dull job. She has no ambition, hardly talks and her dull presence causes the man to break off the affair leading to her breakdown. This is almost a silent film where the long silences and the many scenes filmed in longshot speak volumes. Huppert creates a remarkable character, clearly in love for the first time, who quietly realises that their class difference has created a wedge which eventually causes the relationship to wither. The film's haunting last image, with the camera transfixed on Huppert's expressionless face as she monitonously knits a lace scarf, is a painful scream of silent anguish. The film was Huppert's breakthrough performance which made her into an international star. A must-see.