Mrs. Hyde Screen 11 articles

Mrs. Hyde


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  • In addition to often being quite funny, Serge Bozon’s fifth feature and second consecutive Isabelle Huppert vehicle is an exemplary film about pedagogy, perhaps one of the great ones about intuition, and also one of the strangest screen interpretations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s seminal 1886 science-fiction/horror tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  • If Mrs. Fang was a salutary provocation, Serge Bozon’s Madam Hyde makes an effort to shock filmgoers but ends up being an exercise in gratuitous button-pushing. An opaque allegory that at times seems to parody French films about classroom pedagogy such as Laurent Cantet’s The Class, Bozon’s tongue-in-cheek portrait of the flustered teachers and angry students at a technical school in the Parisian suburbs amounts to little more than chic nihilism.

  • It's a film that falls quite neatly within the "interesting failure" column, although it delivers enough moment-to-moment pleasures to distract from the fact that Bozon isn't really trying very hard. It's the sort of film that performs "complexity" by throwing far too many balls in the air and turning the camera off before they drop back to earth.

  • What starts off, with reckless ambiguity, as a sour indulgence in stereotypes of both the right and the left—though more of the right, with its lampooning of hip-hop culture and of moral decline—morphs into a wild science-fiction comedy, complete with simple but spectacular special effects... With his antics, Bozon offers a philosophical vision, presenting a model of authentic progress that’s also a model of authentic regression.

  • As the beleaguered vocational high school physics teacher of the title, Isabelle Huppert displays her talent for impeccable screwball timing, skills she also demonstrated in Bozon’s previous feature Tip Top (2013). Like the earlier film, an unclassifiable policier that boldly combines slapstick with a shrewd analysis of the still-thorny legacy of France’s colonialist past, Mrs. Hyde upends categories while astutely calling attention to the country’s racism.

  • The film's segregated world hints at a town's (and country's) racial tensions without actually examining them; Mrs. Hyde's murderous excursions simply read as petty revenge directed at Mrs. Géquil's difficult students. Abandoning its initially playful upbraiding of a school's ludicrous administrative practices, the film quickly begins to revel in cruelty, and as such the depiction of a white woman terrorizing an Arab neighborhood ultimately leaves an offensive taste in one's mouth.

  • There’s something intriguing about using Jekyll & Hyde to dramatize systemic educational issues, but the film’s blend of socially conscious drama, science fiction, and wacky satire never congeals... The film obscures its own ideas through narrative overload, losing itself in pursuit of a few too many identities.

  • If anything, Bozon appears more interested in dwelling in the scenes before and after something significant happens; it's perfectly possible to imagine another, more conventional version of Mrs. Hyde pieced together from all the things that happen here off screen. The actual film is certainly unusual, but it's an academic exercise in the deconstruction of tropes and ideas that stimulates without feeling the need to satisfy.

  • My best guess at the overall construction of Madame Hyde is that it pits two genres together, domestic horror and classroom melodrama, and slathers the ensuing chaos in irony so thick that it's self-negating, deployed at times for broad humor and others at the gulf between the tools we deem appropriate for "the observation of reality" and the problems that reality presents.

  • Like her luminous paleness, offset by almost flaming red hair, Huppert’s body on film can be seen as fiercely lean or nearly brittle, a duality Madame Hydesubtly draws upon for its unusual and quite amusing pedagogic version of R.L. Stevenson’s archetype. Huppert is off-set or set against a mostly black and Arab classroom uninterested in the factual mysteries of science, a small, aging white woman uneasy at the lack of respect before her. To help them and help herself, she must be transformed.

  • As if watching a Bruce Banner who never fully Hulks out, we sadly just don’t get to witness Huppert ripping into the role of the selfish, voracious id-monster that the title promises. Still, she is never less than a pleasure to watch, and for an actress who can radiate enough command to part a minor sea, it’s its own peculiar sort of challenge to see her negotiate the role of the “insignificant,” overwhelmed and ridiculed physics teacher in a vocational school in a rough suburb of Paris.

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