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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
by Garon Cockrell
Special Treatment DVD Review
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Aug. 28, 2013 5:10 p.m.

















There are certain actors

that always excite me, certain actors that always leave me with the feeling

that I not only saw something special, but actually experienced it in some way. Isabelle Huppert is one of those

actors. In Special Treatment (or Sans Queue Ni Tęte), she plays Alice

Bergerac, a prostitute who works on her own and has a rather special and

diverse clientele.








Equally interesting is

Bouli Lanners as Xavier Demestre, a psychoanalyst who is having personal crises

of his own, including the possible dissolution of his marriage. We are

introduced to these two different worlds, whose similarities are soon apparent

in large part due to the staging and editing of early scenes.








We see Alice preparing

for a client, looking at an index card that lists his particular needs. She

pulls out the required props, including a teddy bear, and dresses as a school

girl. Then we see Xavier preparing for his client, who enters, sits down and

says he’s happier now. The film cuts back and forth between the two sessions,

and interestingly neither Alice nor Xavier says much during these scenes.








And then neither client

is completely satisfied. Alice tells hers that she’ll introduce him to a

younger colleague of hers, since he had trouble this time. And once he’s left,

she takes out the next index card.








I love watching her

prepare for another client – the interesting props (dog bowl, chalk outline of

a body), the meticulous set-up. What happens next during the session is left to

our imagination. That, of course, is much more twisted than actually showing us

something. Isabelle Huppert is intoxicating and captivating, as always.








There is an interesting

little scene where her friend takes her out for her birthday. Alice points out

an old lady, saying she looks like her grandmother. Then Alice sings along with

a female entertainer. We don’t see the old woman again, but the filmmaker has

done a good job of establishing where everyone is (and without a master shot),

and while Alice sings about no regrets and about how everything is wiped away

and forgotten, she glances again in the direction of the old woman. It’s brief,

but wonderful. She then sings, “I care

nothing about the past
.”








Meanwhile Xavier and his

wife are having troubles. She tells him she doesn’t like what he’s become. He

tells her he’s moving out. She sits at the kitchen table, and there is a great

shot from the hall of him looking at her, then turning out the light in the hall,

leaving her beautifully framed by darkness.








And soon, through a

mutual acquaintance, Alice’s world and Xavier’s world collide. Each thinks he

or she needs what the other’s profession has to offer. And yet each seems to

have become somewhat disillusioned with his or her own profession.








There is an excellent

scene where things go wrong with one of Alice’s clients. What’s wonderful is

that it’s difficult to tell just when things go wrong. At what point has he

leapt beyond their established routine? It’s fascinating and frightening to

watch.  And yet there is a beauty to this

film. And a gentleness.








Special Feature








The DVD includes an

interview with director Jeanne Labrune. This is a written interview rather than

a filmed one, and Labrune talks about analysis and prostitution.








Special Treatment is in French, with English subtitles. It was

released on DVD January 17, 2012 through First Run Features.






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