DVD Review: My Worst Nightmare

STUDIO: Strand | DIRECTOR: Anne Fontaine | CAST: Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Poelvoorde, Andre Dussollier, Virginie Efira
RELEASE DATE: 2/5/13 | PRICE: DVD $27.95
NR | 100 min. | Foreign language comedy | 1.77:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | French with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


Although Isabelle Huppert (Special Treatment) has played in several films that revolved around ensembles — including 8 Women in France and I Heart Huckabees in America — she is such a reliably strong lead that she becomes the sole focus of attention in nearly all the films she stars in. Her choices are always interesting, and the films are thus always worth watching, even when they quickly telegraph the direction in which they’re headed.

My Worst Nightmare movie scene

Isabelle Huppert and Andre Dussollier check it out in My Worse Nightmare.

Such is the case with My Worst Nightmare, a charming but slight comedy that finds Huppert playing an ice-cold gallery owner who is at first repulsed by a vulgar construction worker (Benoit Poelvoorde) whose son is her boy’s best friend. As the film moves along, it becomes more than apparent that Hupper’s icy demeanor is being melted by Poelvoorde’s brutish but honest and caring ways.

Director-coscripter Anne Fontaine states in the press materials for the film that she was looking to make a broad comedy following the rather somber period piece Coco Before Chanel. So Huppert’s character is bound to go from bitchy to sympathetic, and Poelvoorde’s vulgarity will recede in favor of vulnerability.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with the always classy Andre Dussollier (Wild Grass) distinguishing himself in the rather difficult role of Huppert’s restless romantic partner. Both Poelvoorde and Huppert do well with their somewhat clichéd roles. The thing that remains most impressive about Huppert is her willingness to incarnate unlikeable characters — something that is far from the minds of American superstar performers.

My Worst Nightmare is at its best when it’s a character study and not when it’s descending into sitcom-like predicaments (construction worker visits snobby, uptight gallery when drunk — what could possibly happen…?). The latter aspect convinces one that the film could be a likely prospect for a quickie American remake with the likes of Sandra Bullock and Kevin James….

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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”