"My Worst Nightmare" is dated, clunky, indifferently staged and markedly unfunny.

Anne Fontaine’s “My Worst Nightmare” isn’t quite a nightmare for the actors saddled with ineptly formulaic material, but when the thesps include the likes of Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Poelvoorde, Andre Dussollier and Aurelien Recoing, it makes for a special kind of bad dream. Trucking in the standard situation of an uptight, bourgeois woman letting go around a lusty, clownish working-class man, pic is dated, clunky, indifferently staged and markedly unfunny. It’s not all that commercial, either, though it tries so hard to be.

It’s hard to see what attracted Huppert to Fontaine and Nicolas Mercier’s script, but it may have been simply the chance to play opposite the Belgian stylings of Poelvoorde, cast as a ridiculously talky, unemployed handyman who may soon lose his son to child services. His son Tony (Corentin Devroey) hangs out with Adrien (Donatien Suner), the son of Agathe (Huppert) and her lover, Francois (Dussollier), bringing them together for all manner of class-conscious nonsense. Script makes Agathe the object of such dislike — she’s seen as cold and, worse, skinny — that it inspires the viewer to like her in rejection of the pic’s own warped agenda.

My Worst Nightmare

France-Belgium

Production

A Pathe (in France) release of a Cine-@/Maison de Cinema/F.B. Prods./Pathe Prod./M6 Films/Entre Chien et Loup/Artemis Productions/RTBF presentation in association with Taxshelter.be/Casa Kafka Pictures/Dexia/Belgacom. (International sales: Pathe Intl., Paris.) Produced by Bruno Pesery. Executive producer, Philippe Carcassonne, Francis Boespflug. Co-producers, Diana Elbaum, Sebastien Delloye, Patrick Quinet. Directed by Anne Fontaine. Screenplay, Nicolas Mercier, Fontaine.

Crew

Camera (color), Jean-Marc Fabre; editors, Luc Barnier, Nelly Ollivault; music, Bruno Colais; production designer, Olivier Radot; costume designer, Catherine Leterrier, Karen Muller-Serreau. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 9, 2011. Running time: 99 MIN.

Cast

With: Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Poelvoorde, Andre Dussollier, Virginie Efira, Corentin Devroey, Donatien Suner, Eric Berger, Aurelien Recoing. (French, Japanese dialogue)

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