If Venice saw a nastier “Electra” in Joao Canijo’s “Misbegotten,” fest was also offered a kinder, gentler “Medea” in Tonino De Bernardi’s latest neo-New Wave outing, “Medea Miracle.” Perversely choosing the most irredeemable of heroines to rehabilitate, Bernardi presents a modern Medea who learns to curb her grief-born infanticidal urges, even as her Jason eventually manages to temper his impatience-bred cruelty. Bernardi has astutely chosen the incomparable Isabelle Huppert to enact his radically revisionist interpretation, but her born-again Medea, though vintage Huppert, is hardly legendary and will prove a hard sell.
Bernardi, who never abandoned his ’60s-based, quasi-experimental roots, paradoxically employs distancing techniques (disorientating cuts to black-and-white flashbacks) to get closer to his heroine, who hangs out on Parisian street corners when not crooning the same off-key tune in successive gowns at her nightclub. Vague references and vaguer flashbacks to past betrayals of her family in her native land are bookended by unclear promises of redemption in the provinces where she struggles to save dying women in halfway houses. Finding no mythical basis for his Medea’s redemption, Bernardi falls back on close-ups of Huppert’s pensive, suffering or transfigured face.