There’s no denying that the French are a very patriotic people, but there’s a sense from their national disposition that they’re not the type to put much stock into having national treasures like the British do. You can just imagine them shrugging their shoulders and dismissing the whole concept with a barely audible grunt.
But let’s just imagine that it was something that they did embrace, and if they did, you can be sure that Isabelle Huppert would be right up there on that list.
The actress, who is, somewhat remarkably, now 70, has nearly 150 acting credits to her name. And like the best French thespians, she has managed to make a name for herself as an international star, and yet the bulk of her work has been very much in her homeland.
In this thriller, based on a true story, Huppert stars as a woman who finds herself in dark waters as a union rep for a big energy firm.
With a change in CEO’s, the nuclear power company Areva is going through some notable changes. Trying to keep on top of them all is trade unionist Maureen Kearney (Huppert). Although she was on good terms with the outgoing CEO, the same can’t be said of the new one, whom she has somewhat of a prickly relationship with.
It’s not long into his tenureship that Kearney is approached by someone with information about a dubious deal struck between EDF - the state-owned energy company – and a Chinese power company; it’s the kind of deal that would see thousands of French workers lose their jobs, as well as China getting their hands on some pretty sensitive nuclear tech.
She decides this isn’t something she can keep to herself, despite it clearly not being seen as a wise move by her new boss.
Little does she know however what it will mean to herself and her family, by bringing the truth to light.
Jean-Paul Salomé’s film has the air of a fairly standard film about a working dispute, initially at least. What it develops into however, is an intriguing thriller, which feels like it’s been lifted from a celebrated spy novel, rather than actual real life.
It’s the type of film that quietly builds to a point, that when it reveals its hand, you can’t quite believe it.
Huppert is magnificent as Kearney, whose life not only gets turned upside down, but also finds her traumatic experience splashed across the front of the papers. And as an audience, you reach a point where you really don’t know what to believe.
An impressively engrossing thriller then, made more so by the fact for being bizarrely based on fact.
And if the French are too nonchalant to bestow Huppert with any kind of recognition, it’s only fair that we make her an honorary international treasure, for not only this solid performance, but her entire career. Merci beaucoup Madame Huppert and bravo.