Festival de Cannes 70: Isabelle Huppert, 2001

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

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Where actresses are concerned in Cannes, there seldom is a limited range of women from which the voters have to make their decision on who is “best”. The diversity of films that tend to be in competition at the festival each year means they might often be spoilt for choice. The likes of Vanessa Redgrave and Helen Mirren have won it twice. In fact, the British ladies have done extremely well with this prize over the years. Also twice a Best Actress recipient in Cannes is Barbara Hershey, who actually won in consecutive years in the late eighties – the second time was a prize for the female cast of A World Apart. A certain French legend of an actress has also won the Best Actress prize twice. As far as movies about the relationships between the music tutor and student are concerned, if Whiplash is still playing heavy on your mind, you really ought to go seek out Michael Haneke’s astoundingly brutal La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher). A much harder slap in the face, I can tell you. Physically, mentally, sexually, Isabelle Huppert’s Erika is humiliated and brutalised, and much of it self-inflicted. The performance is, and the movie itself, tough-going to watch at times, but never does it lose your attention. Huppert is worn-down and emotionally battered here, even from the opening scene. And she continues to deliver a raw and uncomfortably exceptional performance right through to the very end. Haneke would win the Palme d’Or for The White Ribbon years later – guess who the Cannes jury president was?

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