Pialat never set out to capture the pace of life as it felt to those living it--the films progress too jarringly for that; it's even often difficult to parse how much time has elapsed between scenes and even cuts. What he came closer to was the sense of living under heightened awareness, be it from extreme passion, anger, or regret; and LOULOU, one of Pialat's greatest films, is revelatory in its understanding of all three.
The resultant work—whose screenplay, such as it was, could not actually be completed, as Depardieu and Huppert had other projects to work on—is more fractious, fragmented, and narratively oblique than [Pialat's] previous titles: a film for which the audience must build up its own response to a mystifying but engrossing sexual relationship based on an accumulation of individual snapshots.
However you feel about Pialat’s messy cruelty, his mean streak here finds its perfect avatar in Huppert’s embodiment of a modern-day Madame Bovary, lured from the safety of her marriage bed into the waiting arms of a smouldering lowlife. . . . Placed in our heroine’s shoes, it’s an easy choice—and a tale as old as time, but Huppert’s ferocity shades and contours this tired trope into a veritable tour de force.