You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


A wryly observed sophomore dramedy from scribe-helmer Marc Fitoussi ("La Vie d'artiste").

With: Isabelle Huppert, Lolita Chammah, Aure Atika, Jurgen Delnaet, Chantal Banlier, Magali Woch, Nelly Antignac, Guillaume Gouix, Joachim Lombard, Noemie Lvovsky, Luis Rego.

Kind-hearted realism and spirited thesping are very much the fashion in “Copacabana,” a wryly observed sophomore dramedy from scribe-helmer Marc Fitoussi (“La Vie d’artiste”). Set in the hottest spot north of, um, Ghent, this amusing tale of a Boho mom who enters the time-share biz to win back her daughter’s love starts off on shaky ground, but soon finds its footing thanks largely to Isabelle Huppert, appearing here in carefree comic mode rather than her usual ice-queen routine. Backed by a strong Franco-Flemish cast and generally efficient storytelling, pic should cha-cha among arthouse distribs after its Cannes Critics’ Week premiere.

Despite its title and a soundtrack that includes songs by Astrud Gilberto and Jorge Ben, “Copacabana” has little to do with Brazil and much to do with Belgium. It’s there that, following a disconcerting first-reel setup, the unemployed and single Babou (Huppert) heads to sell beachfront apartments in the northern resort town of Ostend, which looks in the winter like the kind of place where Michael Haneke or Bruno Dumont would gladly spend a weekend.

Babou is what the French call a “baba-cool,” a sort of bourgeois hippie who never held down a steady job, and dragged her daughter Esmeralda (Lolita Chammah) from one country to the next in search of the ultimate laid-back lifestyle. But now that Esmeralda is grown up and about to marry clean-cut salesman Justin (Joachim Lombard), Babou needs to prove she has the chops to be the kind of hardworking, old-fashioned mom her daughter now needs.

When she lands the real estate gig, it’s here that the narrative really picks up interest and humor, as the story transforms into a cleverly framed study of the highly competitive (and equally dubious) business of vacation time-share sales. Ever the iconoclast, Babou remains her insouciant self, but still finds a way to outperform her fiercest rival, Irene (Chantal Banlier, hilarious), eventually becoming the favorite of cutthroat middle manager Lydie (Aure Atika, on point).

What’s most enjoyable about Fitoussi’s characters is how few concessions they make — these folks are what they are, and because they’re mostly blue-collar, they have no choice but to work and stick together despite obvious differences. Thus, when Babou meets local dockworker Bart (the generous Jurgen Delnaet, from “Moscow, Belgium”) and promptly begins an affair, it’s clear to us (though not at first to Bart) that she’s simply enjoying herself but will never be in it for the long term.

Huppert is hugely believable as Babou, making her seem less like the flighty New Age type then like someone who approaches life with eager curiosity, only to be ready to move on as soon as things grow dull. Her relationship with Esmeralda is characterized by the latter’s rebellion against everything mom stands for, while Babou is forced to somewhat grin and bear her daughter’s conservativeness, until eventually stepping in to give a loving and helping hand.

Tech credits are solid, with Helene Louvart (“The Beaches of Agnes”) capturing the depressing contempo decors with natural lighting that shows hints of warmth.



Production: A Mars Distribution release (in France) of an Avenue B, Arte France Cinema, Mars Films, Caviar Films production, in association with Banque Populaire Images 9, Sofica Soficinema 5, with participation of Crrav Nord-Pas de Calais. (International sales: Kinology, Paris.) Produced by Caroline Bonmarchand. Directed, written by Marc Fitoussi.

Crew: Camera (color), Helene Louvart; editor, Martine Giordano; music, Tim Gane, Sean O'Hagan; production designer, Michel Barthelemy; costume designer, Anne Schotte; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Olivier Le Vacon, Benjamin Laurent, Emmanuel Croset; assistant director, Laure Prevost; casting, Fitoussi. Reviewed at Club Lincoln, Paris, May 5, 2010. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Isabelle Huppert, Lolita Chammah, Aure Atika, Jurgen Delnaet, Chantal Banlier, Magali Woch, Nelly Antignac, Guillaume Gouix, Joachim Lombard, Noemie Lvovsky, Luis Rego.(French, Flemish, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content