has had an equal, yet contrastive, impact onHuppert’s career.
revolves around the frustrated desires of Erika(Huppert), a piano teacher in Vienna’s conservatoire. Erika lives with hermother (Annie Girardot), and is suffocated by their claustrophobic rela-tionship. Secretly, Erika consumes pornography and engages in voyeuristicpleasures. She embarks upon an affair with one of her students, Walter(Benoît Magimel), but he is reluctant to comply with her masochisticdesires. The relationship soon spirals violently out of control, damagingboth parties.
caused enormous controversy when it opened the CannesFilm Festival in 2001. The controversy originated in the film’s portrayal of self-mutilation, rape, pornography and battery. Despite their obvious dif-ferences,
do, however, share similar themes.These themes are represented in contrasting ways by Huppert’s perfor-mance and by the films’ respective directors. They also reveal the contra-dictions inherent to Huppert’s work, her on-screen sexuality, and theprogression she has made as an actress, contradictions which we will nowinvestigate.The portrayal of Huppert’s body in the two films can be read as a powerstruggle between Huppert as object and Huppert as
of her image
This power struggle is identifiable in the way in which the twodirectors choose to frame Huppert. The close-up (and to a certain extentthe medium shot) manifests this struggle. In certain contexts, these shotscan be considered as forms of portraiture, and can therefore be seen as adevelopment of our argument for portraiture as a means of controlling theimage. It is worth considering O’Rawe’s definition of the close-up in orderto contextualize this point:
[The] Close-up is traditionally regarded in film theory as both framing thestar, and as giving an illusion of unmediated access to the character’s emo-tions, an effect of transparency, of congruence between image and essence.Richard Dyer refers to it as ‘disclosing for us the star’s face, the intimate,transparent window to the soul’.
(O’Rawe 2003: 17)
The close-up can therefore enforce a subjective reading of the star’s imageand identity, thus diminishing the stars’ capacity to control the imagethemselves. Furthermore, it enables the film-maker to naturalize theimage, whereby spectators are duped into thinking that they are seeingthe essence of the actress. The use of the close-up can, therefore, be read asa means of containing and mythologizing
the actress, and, in its control,pertains to a classical notion of the nude portrait. In
it willbe argued, the close-up expresses the previously mentioned power strugglebetween actress and director. The close-up is used repeatedly by Gorettaand allows him to remain in control of Huppert’s image.However, other arguments have been put forward regarding Goretta’schoice of framing. Parker suggests in her review of
thatGoretta’s use of the close-up subverts traditional representations of thewoman:
From nude to
...4Barthes has discussedthe ‘myth’ of Garbowith particular refer-ence to her facialfeatures (Barthes1993: 56-57).